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Chris Tindal

December 26th Shooting

Posted December 28, 2005

On December 26 Toronto lost another person to gun violence. We are angry and horrified, and we should be. We are also shocked and surprised, and should not be.

This shooting is particularly upsetting to so many of us because it took place in an area where we’ve all stood at one point or another, and because it took the life of an innocent, young girl. It could have been any of us.

But this is not Toronto’s first shooting, nor its youngest victim, nor its most public or brazen. The murder of a human being is equally tragic no matter what neighbourhood it takes place in. Many members of our community have already lost loved ones to gun violence. We must not forget them by pretending this tragedy is the first.

Inexplicable as it may seem, at some point the up to 15 suspects involved in this shooting looked at their options and decided that violence was their only course of action.

Many other members of our community, including my NDP opponent Michael Shapcott, have been on the front lines, dealing with the lack of opportunity and inequality in some of our neighbourhoods, which can lead to violence. People like Shapcott and his Toronto Disaster Relief Committee can offer wisdom and experience at this time, and we would be wise to listen.

I suspect that Mr. Shapcott would also agree with me that it’s no coincidence the current increase in gun violence is coming 10 years after the funding cuts of Mike Harris. It takes time to nurture the kind of hopelessness, desperation, and exclusion required to create a killer.

The point is not that our youth are killing each other with guns, but that they are killing each other at all. In the words of Kofi Hope, a 22-year-old member of the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, "If they're not killing them with guns, it will be with knives, it will be whatever they have access to."

We do need to do whatever we can to keep weapons out of our city, and to upgrade penalties for crimes involving firearms. But more disturbing than a handgun in the pocket of a Toronto youth is the ability to kill in their heart.

We know that the best, long-term approach is to address the root causes of poverty and crime. And we know well enough what those causes are. Our frustration arises from the fact that our attempts to combat them have failed. While I commend Bill Graham for his government’s efforts to fund affordable housing, and Mr. Shapcott for his hard work and compassion, we must go further.

We need strong, local economies for all of our neighbourhoods that supply jobs and opportunity. We can create more locally-run housing, child care, and health programs. We can support local arts festivals and recreational sports. We can support industries and businesses that create local jobs.

The solutions are not simple or easy, but they are achievable, and necessary. We must do whatever we can to build a community where turning to violence never seems like the only available option.

Back to home.


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