Depending on your disposition, “our cops are tops” is either a rallying cry that honours the dedication and sacrifices made by the city’s law enforcement officials and supports their law-and-order agenda, or a trite expression trotted out whenever police morale is low or conservative-leaning publications require a catchy headline. The expression has been part of Toronto’s lexicon for over 40 years, evolving out of a period where several officers died in the line of duty and a desire among the media and public to see our city avoid the deteriorating safety conditions which afflicted early 1970s urban America.
When Brunswick Hotel owners Albert and Mollie Nightingale visited New York City in early April 1972, they found a metropolis where the social order appeared to be dissolving. As crime rose and the economy plunged, there were constant reminders, underlined with a tinge of racial tension, for residents and tourists to watch out for muggers lurking in doorways and on graffiti-riddled subway trains.
That scale of fear affected the Nightingales when staff at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan warned them not to wander the streets at night.
This week’s weather has been unbearable for many in southern Ontario. In the past month in Toronto alone, there have been eight heat alerts and two extreme heat alerts issued by the City. Temperatures have hovered around 30 C, and there has been little rain to provide a respite.
And when the heat rises, people start to make some really poor decisions.
As Mayor John Tory and a number of senior politicians and health officials took turns giving him a light roast in honour of his retirement on July 21, David McKeown assumed one of the two positions that politicians, staff, and TV news watchers have seen him in for the 12 years he’s been Medical Officer of Health for Toronto: arms folded in front of his chest, or alternatively finger stretched over his chin, calmly smiling, occasionally laughing.
It’s been that way since 2004, as McKeown remained unflappable during a series of heated controversies covering almost every topic in the modern city book—limits on cigarette smoking, measures to prevent the spread of AIDS, emergency large-scale vaccination to prevent an outbreak of swine flu, speed limits for cars near schools, the island airport, closures of coal-burning power plants, casinos, limits on junk food marketing to children, a food policy for the city, and, just before he stepped down, medical supervision on sites where addicts inject illegal drugs in Toronto.