I watched the news from Toronto last week with mixed emotions.
I was alarmed by the amount of gun violence in the streets of that city but I felt very relieved to be living here in our sheltered corner of Northwestern Ontario. The aging population in Thunder Bay is getting a little too slow to be avoiding gunfights and dodging stray bullets.
To put things in perspective, most Canadians will never be involved in a shootout but we are still very squeamish about innocent bystanders being killed by trigger happy gang members. Swatting mosquitoes is enough violence for most of us.
We all live in a very safe country and what’s more, Ontario is the safest province by far. Most of the 20 safest cities in Canada are located
here including No. 1 in the country – Caledon. Many people in the world can only dream about living in such secure surroundings and that goes for any other Canadian city as well.
But although it is often considered to be one of the world’s safest big cities, Toronto has already seen over 200 shootings this year, up by 50 per cent over the same period in 2011. Gun violence is being featured on the news almost every night and politicians are being pressured to respond.
Toronto residents are once again feeling a little nervous about the chances of getting shot while minding their own business. Comparisons are being made to the so-called Summer of the Gun in 2005.
That year 52 people were shot to death in Toronto, half of them during the summer months. There have been 21 shooing fatalities so far this year including a gunfight at the Eaton Centre and that incident recently where two gunmen started shooting at each other in the middle of a neighbourhood block party. That’s fireworks Toronto style.
The shootings continued to add up in Toronto this past week as the premier met with the mayor and police chief to discuss the increase in gun fighting in the streets. This gathering has been dubbed The Gun Summit. It sounds like something out of the old west but gun violence is once again on the rise in Canada’s largest city.
Mayor Ford was asking Premier McGuinty for $5-to-$10 million worth of new cops to clean up the guns and send the shooters back to where they came from, wherever that is.
He claims to have no use for all those “hugs for thugs” social ¬pro¬grams, which he claims don’t work anyway.
In the end Mr. McGuinty came up with the money but it will be used to extend the funding of an existing gang violence program.
Mr. Ford will have to forget about the heavy-handed approach he favours.
Maybe he’ll have better luck with the prime minister.
Don’t forget, Mr. Harper has all those new prison cells to fill.
Those familiar with Mayor Ford’s full body contact management style don’t think he is equipped to deal with this situation.
For his part, Premier McGuinty seems to have run out of ideas just as surely as he is running out of money. I hate to say it but score this one for the shooters.
These developments are even more alarming in light of the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado – you know, just up the road from Columbine. All the tragedy inside that movie theatre may just be a preview of where Toronto is headed if this problem is not effectively managed.
I know a young couple who moved back to Thunder Bay a few years ago to escape the increasing violence on the streets of Toronto. It looks like they got out of town just in time. They now live a bullet-free existence in a quiet local community.
Here in Thunder Bay we don’t often have gunfights in the streets but we can’t ignore the problems with gun violence. Many local families have loved ones living and working in Toronto and other Canadian cities.
We want them all to be safe and free from violence no matter where they live.
Families the world over are wishing for the same thing.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford went into the gun summit with both barrels blazing. After the meeting he was quick to claim victory.
I wonder what he thinks he won.
He stated for the record that he would not accept any B.S. from his colleagues on this matter.
That’s too bad. That’s the one thing that always seems to be in good supply.
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