One law for everyone?

It used to be that rich crooks, with friends in high places, were seldom sent to prison. Defended by the best lawyers that money could buy, they tended to win in court much more often than the average person.

It used to be that rich crooks, with friends in high places, were seldom sent to prison.

Defended by the best lawyers that money could buy, they tended to win in court much more often than the average person.

And if they were sent to the big house, at least in the United States, they were apt to get a presidential pardon.

Fortunately, it appears lately that the tide may be beginning to turn.

The rich likely still do get preferential treatment from the justice system, but they may no longer be getting a completely free ride.

Canadian theatre moguls Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb were sentenced to seven and six years in prison, respectively, this week for defrauding investors.

So they must be sitting behind bars at the moment, right?

Well, not quite. They are free on bail pending an appeal of their convictions for cooking their firm’s books.

A poor person would likely remain behind bars awaiting such an appeal, but at least Drabinsky and Gottlieb were convicted. Countless Canadians thought their wealth and fame would spare them that.

Speaking of the famous and wealthy, America’s court system recently sent US$50-billion swindler Bernard Madoff to a federal prison to begin serving a 150-year sentence.

And, if you haven’t already forgotten, financial cheat Conrad Black is still in an American crowbar hotel, serving a 78-month sentence, although his lawyers are doing their best to get him out so that he can be free while he awaits his appeal.

The United States has ushered in a new era of jailing white-collar criminals that ought to be pursued here in Canada.

If we were as tough on corporate crime here, Drabinsky and Gottlieb likely would have received much longer sentences, and they probably wouldn’t be out on bail.

Their sorts of crime hurt all Canadians.

As the judge who sentenced them this week noted, such dishonesty fuels public cynicism and destroys faith in the stock market.

Amazingly, according to Wikipedia, the term “white-collar crime” only dates back to 1939. But the phenomenon surely existed long before that.

Greed, regrettably, is something that is quintessentially human.

We will never utterly defeat white-collar crime, but we just might be able to keep it somewhat contained by throwing a few of the crooked big wigs in prison every now and then.

If we don’t do that, then how can we tell the petty criminal that he ought to do the time, if he has committed the crime?

Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.

Just Posted

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

FREDERICTON — Police have released the Fredericton apartment complex that was the… Continue reading

Police seek public’s help after East Coast lobster thieves strike again

SAINT-SIMON, N.B. — There has been another crustacean caper on the East… Continue reading

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising a first under new Saskatchewan law

SASKATOON — A court hearing related to money raised following the Humboldt… Continue reading

Weed’s want ads longer, marijuana job searches up as industry grows: study

OTTAWA — The growth of Canada’s soon-to-be-legal recreational pot industry is starting… Continue reading

Google Generation’s push for more technology transforming health care: survey

TORONTO — Digitally savvy Canadians who make up the Google Generation are… Continue reading

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month