March 1st, 2024

PM hints at tougher penalties for car thieves as feds seek ideas at national summit

By The Canadian Press on February 8, 2024.

Reporters, staffers and Members of Parliament listen to Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc speak about auto theft, Wednesday, February 7, 2024 in Ottawa. The federal government says an estimated 90,000 cars are stolen annually in Canada, resulting in about $1 billion in costs to Canadian insurance policy-holders and taxpayers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his Liberal government is considering more stringent penalties for criminals engaging in auto theft.

Trudeau made the comment as he kicked off a daylong national summit in Ottawa on how best to tackle auto theft.

He took a pointed jab at Conservative rival Pierre Poilievre, saying “catchy slogans” and two-minute videos won’t solve the problem.

And he hinted at the need for incentives to encourage automakers to install rigid anti-theft technology in their vehicles.

The summit includes officials from various levels of government, as well as police and industry leaders.

The federal government says an estimated 90,000 cars are stolen annually in Canada, resulting in about $1 billion in costs to Canadian insurance policy-holders and taxpayers.

It says auto theft increasingly involves organized crime groups, and the proceeds of these crimes are used to fund other illegal activities.

Ottawa says most stolen autos shipped abroad are destined for Africa and the Middle East.

On Wednesday, the government earmarked $28 million in new money to help tackle the export of stolen vehicles.

The announcement followed persistent pressure from the federal Conservatives, who have been pitching ideas this week to deal with the problem.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2024.

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