By now, most everyone in the city knows of the single most unfortunate event in Toronto this year: On Boxing Day, while shopping, 15-year-old Jane Creba was killed by errant gunfire. Six other innocent bystanders were also wounded.
Just as any other human being in this city – or rather anyone else privy to this story – we feel deeply affected by this. And, as it should go without saying, our utmost sympathies to any and all people more personally affected. This was by no means the first innocent victim of gun violence, and sadly won’t be the last. That said, it’s obviously not the event itself which we would like to debate, but the action that follows. Torontoist has paid a lot of attention to this problem throughout the summer, and believe this to be an appropriate time for discussion.
Anger is a natural, healthy reaction to injustice; we cannot help but respond emotionally toward senseless acts of violence. But anger is only a reaction, not a solution. In the wake of the Boxing Day shoot-out, here is some of the reaction and solution offered up in the city:
Stephen Harper immediately turned the event into campaign push, calling the tragedy a result of the Paul Martin Liberal’s inability to legislate properly regarding gun crimes. From CTV.ca:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, meanwhile, blamed the growth in crimes involving guns, gangs and drugs a consequence of the Liberal government’s inaction, and its “failure to deal effectively with crime.”
“This government is running a revolving door sentencing system,” said Harper before highlighting again his party’s pledges to introduce mandatory prison sentences for serious crimes.
“We’ll make the legislative changes necessary to ensure that we are able to enforce laws against violent repeat and serious criminal behaviour,” said the Tory Leader in Vancouver.
Torontoist says: This sounds like the rhetoric of gun-advocate. Somewhat gutless? No, very gutless. Gun advocates should probably followed the actions of these people.
While still with the federal leaders, Jack Layton had a more even-handed response, saying in a press release:
“These crimes remind us that we must get illegal handguns off our streets in Toronto and across Canada.
To do that we need tougher border controls, tougher sentencing for weapons offences, and tougher anti-gang policing, prosecutions and sentencing.
We also need to get tougher — much tougher — on poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.”
Torontoist says: Good on Jack for a solid, thoughtful response!
In the blogosphere, as they say, BlogTO takes a gruesome photo from the Star to accompany a description of a stolen iPod. A snippet:
About a week before Christmas, one of my best friends was mugged. His newly purchased prized Video iPod, that he had gone through a great deal of trouble to finally own, was snatched right out of his hands on the TTC subway. The brave soul that he is, RAN AFTER the thief and cornered him at the wrong end of the platform.
Torontoist says: Nothing. Torontoist says nothing, but rather is completely mystified. Is this really a post about petty theft? Does it have any relationship to the picture, or these issues? (Makes disgusted face.)
Tory leader John Tory met with Chief Bill Blair to discuss cameras on the street, which would catch criminal activity on film. From the Star:
More video cameras monitoring streets and stores in “high-risk” areas are needed, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said.
Cameras will deter some people from committing crimes and will provide valuable evidence when crimes take place, he told reporters at the corner of Yonge and Dundas Sts., near where Creba and six other innocent bystanders were shot.
Torontoist says: Tory does what Stephen Harper did, only in a more polite way. The idea itself, which seems to have support from Blair, the provincial government and city councilor Jane Pitfield, has been tried around the world. This creates an uncomfortable tension, especially as the city must denote “high risk” areas (“I live two blocks from the Pizza Pizza…yeah, just take a right at the public security camera”). But, much like the proposed ban on handguns, this is something. Something is, most times, better than nothing.
Shelia Ward, chair of the Toronto District School Board, has the most pointed solution. She says, via CTV:
“I want to see federal criminal legislation that provides for a 10-year surcharge added on to any sentence for a crime in which a gun is in the possession of any of the perpetrators,” Sheila Ward said, suggesting a consecutive sentence of a decade in jail would send a powerful message.
“The sentence would not allow for any time off for good behaviour, nor would it be eligible for any other reductions.
According to Ward, tougher sentences are not alone the answer to the growing problem of violence in Canada’s biggest city.
She said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty should cancel welfare reform legislation passed by the former Conservative government of Mike Harris.
“We have lost a whole generation of young people because of the mindless slashing and cutting of social programs, which was more concerned about a piddling tax cut than it was about the damage done to the whole social fabric of our province.
“If one of Premier McGuinty’s sons got a job tomorrow he would keep every penny he earns. But a child of poverty who gets a job to help his or her family, loses 40 per cent of that paycheck if the Mom resides in social housing. It was a brutally stupid idea when it was introduced and it is shameful that this piece of legislation remains on the books two years after a new government has taken office.”
Torontoist says: This is very reasonable. The comment on Harris-regime cuts have been thrown around the web and beyond for several years.
Toronto Mayor David Miller has another good response in regards to public fear. Again, from CTV:
“We all have to be out on the street demonstrating that we’re not going to be afraid.”
“Guns come from two places, about half of them come from the United States and about half are stolen from legal gun owners in and around Toronto which is why I support a ban on handgun ownership.”
Torontoist says: Well, we already called this a ‘good response,’ so…there you go. But, it should be noted, fearing gunmen is not a sustainable action. A ban on handguns is. And while we know that criminals don’t register their guns anyway (they also don’t get their drugs from pharmacies, though cocaine is still banned), a ban is still a move in the right direction (or, any direction).
And, lastly and somewhat leastly, the blogs. Here here here here.
Torontoist says: We’ve said enough. Rest in peace, all the victims of gun violence this year.