David Eby, Attorney General .Image Times Colonist

David Eby, Attorney General, will discuss British Columbia’s legal action against the opioid industry and progress in curbing money laundering when he meets in St. John’s, Newfoundland with federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety.

In August 2018, British Columbia launched a lawsuit against opioid drug companies, which claims that the companies’ marketing practices contributed to the opioid epidemic and caused government to incur millions of dollars in opioid-related health-care costs. If the Supreme Court of British Columbia certifies the claim as a class action, each province and territory can participate. The B.C. government has also passed enabling legislation to allow the claim to be proven in a more efficient fashion, similar to B.C.’s litigation against the tobacco industry.

The Attorney General will also brief his counterparts on steps being taken to end the flow of dirty money in B.C. casinos. Government is implementing the recommendations of Peter German, whose report on money laundering found systemic failures that allowed large-scale, transnational money laundering to occur in the province. German is now conducting a second review that will explore the vulnerability of the real estate, horse racing and luxury car sectors to money laundering. His review is in tandem with one led by the Ministry of Finance into systemic money laundering risks in the real estate market.

Other topics at the St. John’s meeting, to be held Nov. 15 and 16, include Indigenous justice issues, drug-impaired driving, restorative justice, family law reform, legal aid and the modernization of Canada’s criminal justice system.

Expert panel on money laundering seeks public input.

People in B.C. have the opportunity to participate in a public consultation on how to better protect the province’s real estate sector from becoming distorted by money laundering.

“We’re in the middle of a serious housing crisis and we need to be diligent to ensure that our housing market is not being used as a hub to launder money,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “We don’t want any gaps in our laws or regulations. Dirty money has no place in British Columbia.”

The Government of British Columbia’s Expert Panel on Money Laundering in Real Estate is immediately launching its public consultation and will consider submissions as part of its review and final report to government. The panel is chaired by Maureen Maloney, a public policy and dispute resolution professor from Simon Fraser University and former B.C. deputy attorney general.

The panel’s work will investigate gaps in existing laws, consumer protections, financial services regulations, regulations of real estate professionals and jurisdictional gaps between B.C. and the federal government. The panel’s final report and recommendations are due to government in March 2019.

“We need to know how our markets are being used to launder money before we can make recommendations, and it will help the panel to hear from British Columbians, especially those with direct knowledge of our real estate sector and its legal framework,” Maloney said. “We encourage anyone with these insights and proposed solutions to come forward and have their voices heard.”

Maloney is joined by Tsur Somerville, an expert on real estate, development and housing markets from UBC’s Sauder School of Business, and Brigitte Unger, an internationally renowned money laundering expert from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. All three experts are respected and recognized for their work in policy and economics.

The public consultation and expert panel are a part of the government’s 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability, which seeks to stabilize the housing market, build homes that people need, improve security for renters and crack down on loopholes and tax fraud.

This expert panel is in addition to ongoing work being conducted by the Ministry of Attorney General.