Toronto is safe … but we need to keep it that way
By Harpreet Saini
Do I agree that the recent shooting in Scarborough that took two young lives and left 23 injured is the worst incident of gun violence in North America in the past 30 years as Police Chief Bill Blair said from the scene that night? Read Toronto Star
I believe that it would be a macabre exercise to compare different examples of gun violence with one another.
Would the people who live in Colombine believe that the massacre that took place there was worse? The students who attend at Virginia Tech. may also respectfully disagree with our police chief.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which is the worst. All gun crimes are serious and this incident was without a doubt a horrific event that will not be soon forgotten. The families of the victims and the injured probably don’t care to rank this incident with others. For them, the events of this week are likely to be the worst of their lives.
Is this incident a wake up call?
Whenever a crime of this magnitude takes place, we should all sit up and pay attention. Collectively we should mourn and grieve the loss of life that has taken place.
Whether this calls for any changes to the law however is a different question.
As it stands, Canada has very stringent gun laws featuring mandatory minimums that are already sitting on the brink of unconstitutionality. The practical reality is that accused persons who are charged with gun-related offences already face an uphill battle when it comes to being granted bail, arguing successful Charter motions, and making a case for lenient sentences.
As many criminal defence lawyers will say, the law cannot get much more stringent then it already is and we must exercise great caution before we let one horrific incident be the source of a knee-jerk reaction.
Is Toronto a safe city?
Without a doubt, Toronto is a relatively safe city. Crime rates have been on the decline over the years.
Toronto ranks favourably compared to other urban centres of similar size. When an incident such as this one takes place, it (rightfully) garners a great deal of attention in the media and the public mind. The same can be said of the events that took place at the Eaton Centre and in Little Italy recently.
However, even though these highly public incidents are a cause for concern, in the grander scheme, I would say that Toronto is a safe city.
We should not live in fear crouched in the basements of our homes afraid to emerge into the light. Having said that there are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed in this city.
The fact is that many youths are turning to gangs and violence and something needs to be done. Are more jails the answer? Probably not.
And they are certainly not the only solutionby themselves.
More effort needs to be made to address the socio-economic conditions that lead urban youth to gangs, guns, and violence. Education. Employement. Equality. Opportunity. These are things that our youth need.
Our city is safe. But we need to work to keep it that way.