Search for "Crime"

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Quebec Biker War (1994–2002)

The Quebec Biker War was an almost decade-long territorial conflict between two outlaw motorcycle gangs in Quebec: the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine. The war centred on control over the narcotics trade in Quebec. It was also driven by intense rivalries and deep-seated animosities between major figures in Quebec’s criminal underworld. (See Organized Crime.) The conflict involved over 80 bombings, some 130 cases of arson and 20 disappearances. More than 160 people were killed and over 200 were injured, including many innocent bystanders.


Deschênes Commission

The Deschênes Commission (officially known as the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada) was an independent commission of inquiry established by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Its purpose was to investigate accusations that alleged war criminals from the Second World War had found refuge and were living in Canada. The commission took a broad approach to its mandate, investigating war crimes as well as crimes against humanity. While war crimes had already been established as a specific kind of crime after the Second World War, crimes against humanity were not as clearly described, and therefore did not have a clear and defined punishment structure. The outcome of this report was to formalize crimes against humanity and create that framework. Specifically, the Criminal Code was amended so that war crimes would be offences under Canadian law regardless of Canada's involvement in said war. A two-part final report was completed and delivered at the end of 1986. The first part concluded that alleged Nazi war criminals were residing in Canada, but also that Canada lacked the legal means to prosecute those individuals. The second part of the report—that concerned with allegations against specific individuals—remains confidential.


Mysteries in Canadian History

Everyone loves a good mystery. Canadian history is rich with stories of great secrets, unsolved crimes, and events that defy explanation. Among them are the following five mysteries, each shrouded in puzzling circumstances and unresolved endings.


Maggie Vail Murder Case

In September 1869, berry pickers in Saint John, New Brunswick, discovered the remains of an adult and a child hidden in some bushes. The bodies were soon identified as belonging to Sarah Margaret “Maggie” Vail and her infant daughter, Ella May. Later that month, architect John A. Munroe was charged with the murder of Vail, with whom he had an affair. Although his lawyer argued that Munroe was incapable of murder given his education and social standing — an early example of the “character” defence — he was convicted in December 1869. Munroe eventually confessed to the murders and was executed in February 1870.


Vancouver Feature: The Milkshake Murder

The following article is a feature from our Vancouver Feature series. Past features are not updated.

The Bowmac sign on Broadway was the largest freestanding electric sign in the world. It could be seen all the way from Burnaby, miles away. For a short while in 1965 it also helped a promoter hide the slow murder of his wife by arsenic-laced milkshakes.

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Skylight Caper (Montreal Art Heist)

In the early morning hours of 4 September 1972, three armed individuals accessed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through a skylight and stole 18 paintings, as well as 39 figurines and pieces of jewelry. The so-called Skylight Caper was the most valuable theft in Canadian history. Valued at $2 million in 1972, the artworks were estimated to be worth $20 million in 1992, although a rare Rembrandt landscape alone was estimated to be worth $20 million in 2017.


Organized Crime in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

Organized crime is when a group of three or more people commit crimes to make money. Such crimes include gambling; prostitution; pornography; drug trafficking; insurance and construction fraud; illegal bankruptcy; motor vehicle theft; computer crime; and counterfeiting. The widespread nature of organized crime first came to light in the 1960s. Some criminal groups are based on ethnicity. Others are formed within certain industries. New laws were made in the early 2000s to address organized crime in Canada.

This article is a plain-language summary of organized crime in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry: Organized Crime in Canada.

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Money Laundering in BC Raised Home Prices by 5 Per Cent, Study Finds

An independent study found that $47 billion was laundered in Canada in 2018, with $7.4 billion in BC alone. It also estimated that $5 billion was laundered through the BC real estate market, and that this raised the cost of buying a house by at least 5 per cent. The study was conducted by an expert panel led by former BC deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney.


Howard Engel

Howard Engel, novelist, cartoonist (under the pen name “Foo”), story writer, poet (born 2 April 1931 in Toronto, ON; died 16 July 2019 in Toronto). Howard Engel was raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, and educated at McMaster University and the Ontario College of Education. During his career as a producer of literary and cultural programs at the CBC, Engel published a few stories and poems, but he did not begin to write seriously until he became interested in detective fiction.

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LifeLabs Data Breach May Affect 15 Million Canadians

LifeLabs, a private provider of health diagnostic testing, announced that a recent hack to its computer systems put the personal data of 15 million people at risk. Information in the breached data included addresses, passwords, birthdays and health card numbers. LifeLabs told privacy commissioners in Ontario and BC about the hacks on 1 November. The company paid a ransom to retrieve the information, but it could not make assurances that the data was not copied.

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SNC-Lavalin Executive Found Guilty of Fraud, Corruption and Laundering

Sami Bebawi, a former executive with SNC-Lavalin, was found guilty by a Quebec Superior Court jury of five charges including fraud, corruption of foreign officials, and laundering proceeds of crime. Bebawi allegedly received $26 million in kickbacks from infrastructure deals between the Montreal-based construction firm and the country of Libya, dating back to the late 1990s. Babawi was sentenced to 8.5 years on 10 January 2020.



Genocide is the intentional destruction of a particular group through killing, serious physical or mental harm, preventing births and/or forcibly transferring children to another group. The Canadian government has formally recognized five instances of genocide abroad: the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Within Canada, some historians, legal scholars and activists have claimed that the historical, intergenerational and present treatment of Indigenous peoples are acts of genocide.


Angelina Napolitano

Angelina Napolitano, homemaker, murderer (born 1883 near Naples, Italy; died 4 September 1932 in Kingston, ON). Angelina was an Italian immigrant who killed her emotionally and physically abusive husband, Pietro Napolitano. The murder occurred on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, 16 April 1911, in a flat of a house in the immigrant quarter of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. A mother of four children and pregnant with her fifth, Angelina, 28, struck her sleeping husband several times on the neck and head with an axe. Her story is notable for the widespread, international support she received from feminists of the time. Many saw her as a victim, someone who, in today’s terminology, would be described as “battered woman” forced to defend herself.


Murder of Reena Virk

Reena Virk, a 14-year-old of South Asian origin, was savagely beaten and murdered by teenaged attackers in November 1997 in a suburb of Victoria, British Columbia. The crime horrified Canadians and attracted international media attention because of the brutality of the killing as well as the youth of Virk and those who attacked her. It prompted a national conversation about teenaged bullying and racism, led in part by Virk’s parents, who became anti-bullying campaigners in the wake of their daughter’s murder.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.


Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood’s ninth novel, Alias Grace (1996), is a work of historical fiction that centres on the mysterious figure of Grace Marks. She was convicted in 1843 at the age of 16 for the murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, a wealthy Scottish Canadian, who was killed along with his housekeeper and mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Alias Grace won the Giller Prize for fiction in 1996. It was also shortlisted for a Governor General’s Award and England’s Booker Prize. In 2017, Sarah Polley adapted Atwood’s novel into a six-part CBC/Netflix miniseries, starring Sarah Gadon as Marks.

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Muslim Family Killed in Hit-and-Run Hate Crime

Two parents, a grandparent and a daughter were killed and a nine-year-old son was left in serious condition after the family was struck by a pickup truck while walking along the sidewalk in London, Ontario. Police confirmed that the attack was “a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith.” (See also Islamophobia in Canada.) A vigil was held in London two days later. The accused was charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He was also charged with terrorism under section 83 of the Criminal Code. The nine-year-old orphaned boy was released to relatives a week later.


Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist

Over the course of several months in 2011 and 2012, a team of thieves stole approximately 2,700 tonnes of maple syrup from a strategic maple syrup reserve maintained in Quebec (see Maple Syrup Industry). The theft has been popularly dubbed as the Great Maple Syrup Heist. At the time of the heist, the stolen maple syrup was valued at nearly $18 million. The heist may be one of the largest thefts in Canadian history.


Organized Crime in Canada

Organized crime is defined in the Criminal Code as a group of three or more people whose purpose is the commission of one or more serious offences that would “likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group.” Organized crime centres on illegal means of making money, such as gambling; prostitution; pornography; drug trafficking; insurance and construction fraud; illegal bankruptcy; motor vehicle theft; computer crime; and counterfeiting, among many others. The structure, sophistication and widespread nature of organized crime first became evident in the 1960s and 1970s. Some criminal organizations are based on ethnicity, such as the Italian Mafia and Chinese triads. Others are founded within certain industries (e.g., construction) or activities (e.g., biker gangs).