TORONTO - There is no question that the recent spate of shootings in Toronto represent cause for concern, just as they should engender sorrow for the victims and condolences for their families. We share in both.
No one deserves to be at the fatal end of an act of violence – not the individual victims, not their immediate family members, not the innocent bystanders and not the society in which these acts of violence are perpetrated.
The rush of local politicians with their fatuous cookie-cutter expressions of “devastation” that something like this could happen in one of the world’s safest cities just is not enough.
Our first responders, as usual, have proven themselves stellar in their emergency reaction. That is rarely an issue.
What is of concern, though – and without appearing unconcerned for the injured victims or disrespectful to the deceased – is that the image and the reputation of our city is taking a beating, internationally as well as locally.
We would all like to hear of some potential solution from either the Chief of Police, who oversees a budget of more than $1 billion annually, or from those responsible for their oversight. That would include the Mayor, around whose leadership all potential measures would inevitable revolve.
It would include the Premier on whose doorstep the inevitable additional costs for those solutions will be dropped.
It should include input from the educational authorities and “civil society” organizations responsible for creating and nurturing a sense of civic responsibility and civic obligation.
It should not exclude media and press – we included – whose reporting tends to sensationalize these events, making them, in the large scheme of things, appear out of control.
We are sensitive to the fact that we are talking about men, women, and increasingly, children. Human beings whose existence has suffered the ultimate indignity of termination of life.
We should keep pressure on our elected officials, in this election year, to propose solutions rather than offer up facile nostrums of sorrow. The problem cannot be so easily erased.
It should be noted, however, that we still live in a relatively civilized society; most cities around the world – including other Canadian cities still see us as a “model of peace and tranquility”.
Yes, there have been 163 shootings Year To Date. That means we are on track to experience 300 by year’s end – four every five days; the result, at this rate, could be 77 murders by year’s end. That is definitely an increase over last year’s 61. It should be a stimulus to action.
Nonetheless, Toronto, or more precisely the Census Metropolitan Area of Toronto, remains relatively a safe place to live and raise families.
In 2016 there were 96 victims, a rate of 1.55 per 100,000 inhabitants (74 of those murders in Toronto proper).
The rate in all 33 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) was 1.63/100,000. Outside the CMAs, the rate was 1.80/100,000.
Yes, we should mourn the loss of lives, and our condolences and prayers go out those affected, we should also pressure our elected representatives to be pro-active in developing and promoting long term preventive strategies and solutions.