What Budget 2024 promises on auto theft – plus, nearly $700M for CSIS – National

With the number of stolen cars in Canada surging, Ottawa is bringing in stiffer penalties for auto theft as part of Budget 2024.

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The federal government is creating new criminal offences to crack down on organized crime, calling it the driving force behind the rise.

It will also add new offences related to violent car thefts, money-laundering and the possession and distribution of technology that can make it easier to steal cars.

Harsher punishments are also on the way for criminals who “used or involved a young person” to swipe vehicles, according to the budget.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility of stronger auto theft penalties at a national summit on combatting auto theft held in February in Ottawa.

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It’s an idea that Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also proposed. He vowed to introduce a mandatory three years in jail for three car theft convictions.

The most recent numbers show in 2022, vehicle thefts rose 50 per cent in Quebec, nearly as much in Ontario, and 35 per cent in Atlantic Canada. There were 9,600 vehicles stolen in Toronto alone that same year, 300 per cent more than in 2015.

The Canadian Vehicles Manufacturers Association is among those who called for the changes to the Criminal Code, warning Canada is a “source country” for stolen vehicles. The organization’s chief executive Brian Kingston spoke at the summit, describing how since 2021 vehicle theft rates have grown faster in Canada than the United States.

“What explains that divergence?” said Kingston. “Sophisticated transnational organized crime groups have targeted Canada because the risk of prosecution is low, and the financial reward is high.”

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The Liberal government is also going after financial crimes in the 2024 budget, by setting aside $30 million for the Canada Border Services Agency to uncover money laundering and terrorist financing.

Ottawa is also spending two million dollars to go towards the creation of the Canada Financial Crimes Agency.

Hundreds of millions for Canada’s spy agency

Ottawa has pledged new money in its fiscal plan for Canada’s spy agency, whose top-secret work has been at the heart of a public inquiry now underway into foreign interference.

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CSIS will receive $656 million over the next eight years to combat “emerging global threats” including foreign interference and violent extremism.

“Canada continues to be targeted by hostile actors, which threaten our democratic institutions, diaspora communities, and economic prosperity,” reads the budget.

The inquiry commissioner, Quebec judge Marie-Josee Hogue, is examining those threats at the inquiry into foreign election interference, with her interim report due next month.

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