By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 0 Comments
After meeting with Rob Ford, Stephen Harper challenges the courts.
Reporter: Just changing the topic slightly, a lot of discussion in recent days about the most recent Toronto gun shootings, coming … Sorry. Most of the guns involved in the recent Toronto shootings come from the US. Border … the union representing border officials are saying that government cuts will make it harder to stop illegal guns from entering the country. How would you respond to that?
Stephen Harper: In fact, quite the opposite is the case. This government, through particularly our Beyond the Border action plan with the United States is literally investing hundreds of millions of additional dollars in security along our border. It is one of three principal things that we are doing as a government to try and deal with crime, and in particular, gun crime. One is of course much tougher penalties for gun offences. As you know, we’ve passed a number of things through the federal Parliament. Some of those things are before the courts. Some courts have been attempting to strike down some of the tough sentences we’ve imposed. I think these events in Toronto underscore why these penalties are essential, why it is essential to have tough and certain penalties for gun crime. I’m pleased that all three levels of government have supported those kinds of initiatives, and I certainly call on the courts to take these penalties seriously. This is not a theoretical problem. That’s one of the things we’re doing. Also, of course, on the enforcement side, we’ve got a bill before Parliament right now, C-43, to make it easier to deport those who, non-citizens who involve themselves in criminal activity in this country. I also mentioned, of course, that we do have increasingly integrated law enforcement programs with the United States to try and deal with the gun problem. As you know, most of the illegal guns that are used here do come from south of the border, and that is a number one priority of our cross-border initiative with American authorities. The third thing we’re doing, of course, is we also do invest in young people and in communities, and in programs that will try and encourage alternatives to gun and to gang activity.
Below is Mr. Harper’s response when asked specifically about his meeting with the Toronto mayor. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister will meet with the mayor of Toronto tomorrow afternoon in Scarborough. The Star has comment from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“We’re obviously concerned about gun crime,” MacDougall said when asked about expectations for the meeting. “That’s why we’re trying to crack down on it by passing new laws with stiffer sentences. The mayor expressed an interest in hearing what exactly the federal government was doing, both on the crime front and the stuff that (Immigration Minister Jason) Kenney was talking about last week,” MacDougall said.
“The Prime Minister is always happy to meet with elected officials to talk about what the government is doing, so we’ll run through some of the stuff that we’ve passed, some of the stuff that is still before the House and answer any questions he has,” MacDougall said.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Max Read dismisses those who fret about “politicizing” a tragedy.
It’s easy to understand the impulse to decry “politicization”: politics is necessarily antagonistic, and in the aftermath of a violent tragedy confrontation seems distasteful and disrespectful. No one wants to be accused of using a tragedy for “political ends.” But you don’t really get to escape. The insistence that no one talk about politics is itself a political act. Politics is how we effect change in the systems and structures that govern our lives. To take the stance that tragedies are or should remain “apolitical” or “depoliticized” is to say, essentially, that everything is fine and nothing needs to be fixed; that such an act was random and unpreventable. (In a country with rates of violent crime that far exceed our economic and cultural peers, such a sentiment seems misguided at best.) To demand politics be left out of the conversation is only to hide them.
Similarly, there is part of Dave Weigel’s early response to the shooting in Colorado.
I see Chris Cillizza’s getting criticized for writing a well-researched story about whether gun tragedies affect public opinion of guns.(Short version: There are vastly different KINDS of tragedies, but, no.) Lay off! The only time Americans ever talk about gun laws or the effects of gun laws is after tragedies.
There are probably some distinctions that need to be made. Holding a raucous political rally on the day of a prominent tragedy would have been poor form, but no more so than going through with a gala red carpet opening in Paris for the movie linked to the shooting. Erroneously linking the perpetrator to a particular political cause or party isn’t “politicizing” the tragedy, it’s bad journalism. And to say we shouldn’t be afraid of political debate and discussion isn’t the same as excusing politicians who offer rash, poorly conceived responses in the wake of tragedies.
But, with all that said, the idea that we shouldn’t “politicize” a major event is vaguely puerile. We should respect the loss and the grief, but we can’t suspend reality: specifically, the reality that everything of any significance is political. Not “political” in the way that word has become a slur, but political in that it relates to how we govern our society and relate to and interact with each other. The idea of “politicizing” suggests there’s a difference between “politics” and “real life.” Worse, it would also seem to suggest that we find our politics to be generally distasteful.
But that should be an argument against how our politics is conducted. Not with the very idea of democratic governance. We should be able to talk about the very serious matters of policy that are raised by tragedies such as the shootings in Scarborough and Colorado. To suggest we shouldn’t is to suggest we can’t. That we can’t handle a very serious discussion about a very serious issue. For sure, we should respect the very real tragedies that have occurred and our thoughts should be with those affected. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that anything is made better by declining to engage with the questions of public policy that are raised by these events.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 6:58 PM - 0 Comments
Opposition MPs criticize Jason Kenney for agreeing with what he thought Rob Ford was saying.
Liberal MP John McKay, whose Scarborough riding was rocked by the shooting, said Kenney should have known better than to echo anything said by Ford, whom he accused of fanning “the flames of ignorance and prejudice.” ”It’s classic dopey on dopey,” McKay said in an interview.
McKay, who has spent considerable time since the shooting meeting with residents in the affected community, said they’re “upset that their community is going to be stigmatized.” He said Kenney’s talk of foreigners is only going to make that worse. ”If being born here of Jamaican or Caribbean parentage makes you a foreigner, I guess they’re foreigners,” McKay said, adding that he saw the residents “more as Canadians.”
Bob Rae tweets.
When Jason Kenney takes his policy advice from Rob Ford, you know we’re in deep trouble as a country.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 4:33 PM - 0 Comments
Now that the Toronto mayor has explained that he wasn’t quite talking about what the Immigration Minister apparently thought the Toronto mayor was talking about, the Immigration Minister has clarified both his views and the law.
“Obviously we can’t tell people which city they can and cannot live in,” Kenney said. “And if someone’s a Canadian citizen, and they’re convicted of a crime, there’s nothing we can do to deport them.”“If you’re a Canadian citizen, and you committed a crime, you spend your time in prison. Once you’re released, and you’re beyond parole, you get what’s called the mobility rights of the Charter of Rights. You get to choose where you’re gonna live. And whether we like it or not, that’s the situation,” he said.
A transcript of Mr. Kenney’s interview is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM - 0 Comments
He would like to see the federal government impose harsher sentences on those convicted of gun-related crimes. And he would also like to somehow prevent individuals convicted of gun-related crimes from living in Toronto.
“I’m going to hopefully meet with the Prime Minister to see if we can toughen our gun laws,” Mayor Rob Ford told radio station AM40 Wednesday night. “Once they’re charged and they go to jail the most important thing is when they get out of jail, I don’t want them living in this city. They can go anywhere else, but I don’t want them in the city.”
Asked how he planned to force gangsters out of Toronto, Mr. Ford said: “I don’t know and that’s what I’m going to sit down with the prime minister and find out: how our immigration laws work. Obviously I have an idea. But whatever I can do to get them out of the city I’m going to, regardless of whether they have family or friends, I don’t want these people, if they’re convicted of a gun crime, to have anything to do with the City of Toronto.”
Daniel Dale notes there has been no public suggestion from police that immigrants were involved in the Scarborough shooting.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 11:02 PM - 0 Comments
In the wake of the Danzig shooting, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants a meeting with the Prime Minister.
But he says the federal government has to send a message through the Criminal Code. “Three years for possession of a handgun? That’s nonsense. They should do some serious, hard time, and not come back here,” said the mayor, who promised to pressure the prime minister to lengthen the sentence. “I want to see what’s the most they can do. They can do really whatever they want because they have a majority government, and I’m going to put pressure on them because it’s affecting our city more than any other city in Canada.”
I’m told Ford’s office has asked for a meeting and the Prime Minister’s Office is working to schedule one.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM - 0 Comments
Criminology professor James Sheptycki laments for how little we understand about gun crime.
I am somewhat pessimistic that we will establish a program of independent academic research into the problems of guns, crime and social order in Canada. Without that knowledge, it is easier for politicians and pundits to pontificate. Mayors can be outraged and disgusted. Federal ministers can tub thump about the need for mandatory minimum sentences. It is business as usual for the crime fighters and business is booming. They are shooting in the dark.
The trouble is, there is not a shred of evidence that business as usual is actually having an effect on criminal subculture. In fact, there are research findings that suggest that some of our current policies make things worse.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 11:56 AM - 0 Comments
I get tired of writing about gun control even before I start typing. It is probably the one topic in Canadian public discourse that is most saturated by emotion and bereft of evidence-based arguments. But some contributions to the debate require a response.
This morning we have the Toronto Star weighing in on Monday night’s Danzig Street shooting, in which two people were killed and another 24 were injured when two men opened fire at each other at a neighbourhood barbeque. All the facts are not yet known, but police suspect gang involvement.
The Star’s solution, according to its paper editorial headline, is that it’s “High time to ban guns.” The editorial continues to note that witnesses should come forward. “But society as a whole can do more by banning private ownership of handguns… Indeed it’s hard to imagine how this could have happened at all if the shooters didn’t have access to easily concealed handguns.
“It’s too early to say where the firearms used in the latest bloodshed came from. But there’s no doubt that handguns — legal and otherwise — are all too common and easily obtained. Any reduction in the supply available to criminals would help…
“As of the end of May, there were almost 700,000 legally registered handguns in this country — a sizeable arsenal waiting to be stolen by criminals. While this isn’t the main origin of firepower, private collections represent a significant source that should be shut down.”
Where to begin? Let’s start with a plea for facts. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 8:01 PM - 0 Comments
“This is not a time for panicking. It is a time for people to work together at all levels and find solutions that actually will deal with these people in a preventable way,” Mr. Fantino, the International Development Minister, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. Perpetrators of these types of crimes have not been deterred by the criminal justice responses that existed for many years, he said. “That is why we are stiffening things up somewhat to make the consequences more meaningful and more certain. And, although that’s not the cure-all and the end-all, it does provide some answers.”
… Liberal MP John McKay, in whose riding the shootings took place, said there are better ways to spend crime-fighting dollars than the measures introduced by the Conservatives. But “to be candid about it, I frankly don’t know that any legislation can deal with something like this,” Mr. McKay said. “This is some immature individual who decided that they are going to solve their problems at the end of a barrel of a gun.”
Meanwhile, Vic Toews laments for judges who have refused to abide by mandatory minimum sentencing legislation.
“We are very concerned about the courts doing that, because illegal firearms — especially those smuggled in from the United States … minimum prison sentences are absolutely essential to create a strong deterrent against that kind of activity,” Toews said in an interview with Prairie network Golden West Radio. ”These guns are being used by gangs in order to perpetrate the kind of violence that we’ve seen on our streets.”
For last week’s print edition, Colby Cosh looked at the two rulings this year in Ontario that have found the mandatory sentences inappropriate.