Ask a person from almost any demographic across British Columbia, and they’re likely to tell you the same thing: they support a public inquiry into allegations of money laundering at the province’s casinos.
That’s according to a poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Global News.
The poll found that around three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents supported a public inquiry — 38 per cent showed strong support, while 42 per cent “somewhat” backed the idea.
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Global News reports have revealed allegations of money laundering at B.C. casinos, through a scheme some investigators have dubbed the “Vancouver model.”
Ipsos found support for a public inquiry into this alleged activity among just about every group the pollster spoke with — women and men, the high school- and university-educated, and more.
Among the genders, 77 per cent of women said they support a public inquiry, compared to 74 per cent of men.
A greater share of men indicated strong support (36 per cent) than women did (31 per cent).
Across age groups, too, a heavy share of people supported an inquiry.
Among respondents aged 18 to 34 years old, 71 per cent support such an action to investigate allegations of money laundering.
Among respondents aged 35 to 54, the share was 80 per cent.
For people aged 55 years and older, the share was 75 per cent.
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Support was also clear across educational levels.
Nearly 80 per cent of people who had attained post-secondary education supported an inquiry, compared to 73 per cent of respondents with a high school education and 71 per cent of people whose education was high school or less.
“There’s a consensus building in the province that there should be a public inquiry into this issue,” said Ipsos vice president Sean Simpson.
Ipsos has conducted polls related to public inquiries in the past, and support has run in the range of about 10 to 20 per cent, Simpson said.
This time, “it’s a majority, a solid majority of every demographic group studied.”
The poll revealed plenty of trust that a public inquiry would arrive at the truth around allegations of money laundering in B.C. casinos.
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Trust stood at 72 per cent across all respondents, but it was most pronounced among people whose educations reached levels below high school (78 per cent).
“They don’t think it’s going to be a waste of time for optics,” Simpson said.
Support for a public inquiry was even stronger when considering whether the public wants one.
All but 11 per cent of respondents said there should be an inquiry if the people desire it.
“The vast majority of residents of British Columbia say if the public thinks we should have one, then we should have one, whether they support it themselves or not,” Simpson said.
Most respondents also felt that alleged money laundering was tied into B.C.’s real estate market, as well as the fentanyl crisis.
Here, 63 per cent of respondents felt this way, with the strongest shares coming among people aged 55 years and older and those with high school educations (67 per cent in each case).
“Maybe it’s not just a public inquiry into money laundering at B.C. casinos,” Simpson said.
“Maybe there’s a broader scope and we need to re-examine the role that organized crime is playing in British Columbia more generally, and in some of these markets, like drug trafficking, real estate and casinos more specifically.”
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While the public supports an inquiry, B.C.’s provincial government has said it wants to wait on the results of an investigation by former deputy RCMP commissioner Peter German into money laundering in real estate.
Attorney General David Eby told Global News in December that the collapse of the E-Pirate investigation made an inquiry more likely.
There are, however, differing opinions within the BC NDP caucus on whether to hold one, according to Global News sources.
Eby and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth are reportedly pushing for an inquiry.
Premier John Horgan remains cautious about one, but his feelings have evolved on the idea and he’s not ruling it out, sources said.
- With files from Sam Cooper
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted between January 31st and February 4th, 2019 on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a random sample of 800 British Columbia residents aged 18+ were interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online surveys is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within ±4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all BC residents over the age of 18 been surveyed. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.