On Yonge Street just north of Elm Street, in front of the store in which 15-year-old Jane Creba killed by an errant bullet, a group of about 200 gathered to mourn the deaths of all those killed by guns in 2005. There was a moment of silence before each candle was dedicated to a shooting victim; one candle for any one of the 52 victims. Organizer Himy Syed placed his candle down for Jane Creba.
Around 5 pm, one lane of traffic on Yonge Street was closed as crowds gathered for the somber candlelit vigil. Each speaker gave a brief speech to the crowd. The message – delivered by friends and relatives of the victims, strangers and politicians – was like a sad broken record: Stop gun violence.
On-lookers gathering at the upstairs pub.
One unfortunate situation at the event was the presence of some politicians currently involved in the federal election. Lewis Reford, Conservative candidate for Toronto Centre-Rosedale, was seen giving his Conservative Christmas card to supporters in the crowd.
Torontoist, already disgusted with Stephen Harper using this tragic shooting death to attract voters, looked to verify that a Conservative candidate was distributing campaign materials at the event. Mr. Reford, at the back of the crowd, was easily noticed since he was decked out in various Conservative apparel. In true campaign form, he did in fact give us a Christmas card (pictured – and we’re scanner-less, so we do mean pictured).
Later on, the tacky blue ‘C’ on Mr. Reford’s cap seemed to attract the attention of a few other politically-interested members of the crowd, whom engaged Mr. Reford into discussion. This group, though not Mr. Reford, quietly heckled Mayor David Miller as he was called upon to light a candle (also pictured, in blurry black cap).
Next – though not nearly as inappropriate – was incumbant Trinity-Spadina MP Tony Ianno. Torontoist stood next to a respectful Mr. Ianno for the bulk of the ceremony. Though when his rival Olivia Chow dedicated a candle with city councilor Pam McConnell, Mr. Ianno brusquely side-stepped us to get to the front (a campaign push?).
The irony of this situation involving Mr. Reford and Mr. Ianno was in a message from a relative of a shooting victim. In her dedication, the grieving woman asked that politicians not use her crisis to win an election, but rather to come together to find solutions. In both candidates’ defence, the woman did not mention anything about handing out Christmas cards or shoving toward the television camera at a candlelit vigil for shooting victims.