The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Samuel Getachew Headshot

Ford's Tea Party-Like Solutions to Toronto Violence

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Earlier today, an identified man was discovered in a school playground and pronounced dead from gunshot wounds. This follows the killings of two young people in Scarborough on Monday and another man who was shot and killed in a soccer field on Tuesday.

The latest killing was Toronto's 30th homicide of the year.

In a desperate city that is looking for answers, its mayor, Rob Ford, and his colleague and member of the mayor's executive committee, Councillor Michael Thompson, offer unusual Tea Party-like simple solutions to a complex made in Canada problem.

Earlier this week, the mayor promised to have a sit down with the Prime Minister to motivate him to change immigration laws to deport convicted gang members from Toronto. According to media reports, he has not been able to connect the issues he sees the recent tragedies with immigrants and gang violence.

The fact is that most of these crimes are being alleged committed by Canadian born and raised young Canadians.

The mayor was the lone member of council to vote against $16 million in community grants earlier this month. His reason -- "social spending is not effective as a solution to youth violence." He also became the only member of city council to vote against accepting $350,000 from the federal government for a year-long gang intervention project from the National Crime Prevention Center.

In announcing a major funding in 2008, the conservative government of Stephen Harper via former Minister Stockwell Day announced how:

Our government is concerned with gang violence in Toronto neighborhoods and today's announcement is another concrete action this government is taking to prevent crime among youth...We have listened to the concerns of the police and the City of Toronto on this issue...This funding will go a long way to prevent at-risk youth from getting involved with gangs and will help them make better choices.

In his "urgent" meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty this coming Monday, the mayor has promised to ask for funds to hire more police officers and call for lengthy prison terms for convicts. "Once they're charged and they go to jail the most important thing is when they get out of jail, I don't want them living in this city," he commented.

Legal scholars are at a loss for words how anyone can be prevented from living in a city of their choice.

Scarborough Councillor Michael Thompson is looking at revisiting one of a slew of ideas he has brought in his municipal career to help curb the violence. These past ideas have included giving the police the power to target and question black youth (racial profiling) and evicting Toronto Community Housing residents whenever they are convicted of drug and gun crimes without the right to appeal.

Evict them as in make them homeless? How about their family members? The mayor supports the idea and according to him, "if one gets caught with a gun you shouldn't be allowed to live ...not just in Toronto Community Housing but in the city."

It is shocking that these rhetoric and perspectives are coming for the most senior members of our municipal government. Their ideas are wrong and disturbing at best.

Coincidentally, the people whose perspectives are much needed are those that work with the young people in question. For instance, according to one youth activist, Kim Katrin Crosby:

[If we as a society] Affirm our young people and tell them that they are unique and special and then they are racially profiled and all grouped in a monolith, then the police are not accountable to the communities...If every time a Black person fires a gun, it gets automatically added to the rhetoric about us as savage and violent, but when white folks commit acts of violence we don't get fed racist rhetoric about the white crime rate and demands for Europeans to go back to their country then the media is not accountable to us.

If putting more people in prison and giving them an instant criminal record was a great solution -- Crobsy adds, then the United States would be the safest country in the world.