In terms of organizations such as biker gangs, they are, in fact, international organizations devoted exclusively to criminal activity. This is a phenomenon that has been observed everywhere in the world. It has been noted in Europe and elsewhere that disputes have arisen between international criminal biker gangs whose sole aim was to exert total control over a specific criminal territory. There I am referring to narcotics trafficking, prostitution and all the other types of criminal activity that can benefit a group.
Members of these organizations use their image when they make contact with members of another organization, or even the same organization. I could give you the example of the Hells Angels. Members of the Hells Angels group in Quebec and in British Columbia use the same selection process. That means that they are all loyal to the organization. That being the case, they can collaborate for the purposes of their illicit trade without having to worry about protecting themselves, as opposed to dealing with members of another organization or with independent criminals who are not part of a criminal organization. The partnering process would not occur without a certain amount of mistrust. Wearing its colours and identifying with an organization, including obeying its rules regarding the wearing of those colours, authenticates the members and facilitates their criminal activity.
I am talking about the Hells Angels here. However, at the international level, there are also such groups as the Outlaws, the Bandidos, the Rock Machine, and the Mongols, which are governed by the same principles and operate in the same way.
Flaunting one's membership in such an organization becomes a tool. In some cases, it can even act as a deterrent to people, in both the civilian population and among local criminals or members of other organizations who oppose a takeover by the organization that is out there showing its colours. Being out there for everyone to see or using the name of one's organization elicits a certain image in people's mind, just as the words “Hells Angels” do. Things immediately come to mind and suggest that this is a criminal organization, because there have been prosecutions, media coverage in other countries, and so on. These things are well known to people in the criminal justice system, because they have been acknowledged in Canada.
A little earlier, statistics were mentioned, reference was made to days or weeks. Just to give you an example, on the Software project, the R. v. Lindsay case, Mr. Cameron spent 10 days proving the act of extortion. Six months were needed to prove the existence of criminal organizations in Canada. That is really a very lengthy and significant period of time, compared to the offence.
It is also important to understand that a member of the Hells Angels who is in charge of a narcotics trafficking network is contributing to the overall welfare of the group. Part of the criminal revenues are spread around to improve the organization and make it more powerful. When a member like that is arrested, those things are often lost.
I see that Mr. Latulippe may want to add something. However, I do think that shows the impact that these images can have.
In closing, I would like to raise one final example. In 2004, there was a gathering of Hells Angels members in the Sherbrooke region to celebrate an anniversary. Members of the organization from across Canada travelled to Sherbrooke on that occasion. About 25 members of the organization from British Columbia decided to fly in economic class and to show their colours. Complaints were made during the flight by the airline staff. Subsequently, passengers also complained, saying that the fact these individuals were showing their colours had upset them. I was asked to meet with a security manager for the airline company in Montreal. He asked me what steps could legally be taken under the legislation. He wanted to know what he could do and what the law allowed him to do in such cases.
I had to tell him that any action fell within the purview of the airline company itself, which could possibly ask such individuals not to show their colours, because it upset their clients.