A week after the election, a local Marijuana Party candidate will be
sentenced on criminal charges resulting from an extensive marijuana
grow operation in Surrey and possession of an assault rifle.

Donald Briere, a candidate in Surrey-Tynehead pleaded guilty Dec. 4 to
growing and selling marijuana in addition to two weapons-related
offences, The Leader has learned.

He will be sentenced in Surrey Provincial Court May
23.

Briere, 49, claims to be an example of the unjust state of Canadian
law.

"I would not have any charges, if this prohibition of marijuana was
not here," Briere says.

Marijuana Party president Marc Emery says he's been aware of Briere's
pending court case from the outset of the election.

"Don explained all that when he was a candidate and I told him
anything to do with cannabis wasn't a concern to us," Emery said in an
interview from Fort St. John.

Emery adds that eight of his 79 candidates are facing charges, or have
been charged with cultivating marijuana. Another 10 have been charged
with possession of marijuana. The B.C. Elections Act doesn't prohibit
a person with a record from running for office.

Emery was unaware of the Briere's weapons offences.

"That doesn't sound like him," Emery said, adding "a lot of people own
guns."

Briere says the weapons offences aren't a big deal.

"I've had guns since I was nine years old," Briere says. "That means
I've been handling guns for 40 years and I haven't accidentally let a
kid get ahold of my gun and shoot somebody."

The gun for which Briere was charged was a MAK-90 assault rifle - a
weapon the public is prohibited from possessing in this country.

The sentencing date punctuates the end to an eventful year for Briere,
and the Mounties in three jurisdictions who hunted him.

Last July, Briere was charged with laundering an estimated $2.3
million in profit from pot sales by purchasing properties in Surrey,
Delta and 100 Mile House.

During an 18-month RCMP investigation, police surveillance records
show a cheerful Briere discussing the unique challenges of the pot
growing profession with a veteran of the business at a Surrey pub.

According to arrest warrants, Briere praised Canadian marijuana laws,
saying "how lucky we are to be in Canada and how they would only get
three years (if they got caught)."

On his tax return, he gave his profession as "self-employed builder,"
declaring an annual income of $62,000 plus money from a number of
rental properties.

That claim does not rest well with the Canada Customs and Revenue
Agency. Briere was served papers by Revenue Canada last week, for
payment of more than $1.3 million in back taxes.

Asked by The Leader Friday as to how he earned that much money, Briere
said: "It's going to have to be from grow ops, I would assume," adding
he has no plans to pay. "Oh hell no - no way. I've filed an objection."

However, a B.C. Supreme Court ruled last Wednesday that the minister
of revenue is authorized to collect the money owed.

"Mr. (Donald) Briere currently owes more than $1.3 million in unpaid
personal income tax and related interest and penalties for 1996, 1997,
1998 and 1999 as a result of re-assessments issued on Dec. 21, 2000,"
Justice Bruce Harvey writes in his April 24 finding.

Again, Briere cites this as another reason he's running for political
office. "Nine out of 10 people are sick and tired of the tax system
here."


Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: Wed, 02 May 2001
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 Surrey Leader
Contact: newsroom@surreyleader.com
Website: http://www.surreyleader.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1236
Author: Kevin Diakiw, - with files from Dan Ferguson