Wednesday, June 16

Ford to Tory: Focus on fighting crime, not saving council size

Rather than meeting to find ways to save a bunch of their jobs, Premier Doug Ford suggests Toronto councillors use the time to try to save lives.

In an open letter Friday from the premier’s office to Mayor John Tory, Ford strongly suggests council move on from the debate about the reduction of city councillors and put its priorities on the deadly issue of guns and gangs.

“I implore you, along with Toronto city council, to address this critical issue at your meeting on Aug. 20 and add funding for guns and gangs to the city council agenda. The people of Toronto, and by extension Ontario, need and deserve to feel safe in the city and our great province,” Ford wrote.

The premier was commenting on a special meeting council has scheduled for what he understands is “to discuss the Better Local Government Act, which recently was passed and received royal assent.”

Ford indicated that since the act is already law, the time would be better spent on the city’s murders and wild shooting sprees. With it having been such an ugly summer, with far too many innocent people slain, it’s refreshing to hear a politician not use the same old rhetoric in talking about looking for solutions.

It’s also vital.

All players have to get on the same page before any more people out bowling, sitting in their car, or out for ice cream get gunned down. Serious action has to happen before any more kids are shot while having fun in their local playground.

Ford is correct in calling out council on this one. The violence in Toronto is way more important than a court challenge to determine the size of council.

Ford and Tory have already been at odds over approaches on how to fight crime.

The mayor has been talking about an all-out handgun ban while Ford has been on record saying legal, law-abiding target shooters should not be the focus but rather the illegal gun traffickers and gangsters who peddle them.

The premier’s letter does not pull any punches and puts the onus on what can be done to combat crime squarely at Tory’s feet.

“Mayor, I submit to you that the citizens of Toronto cannot wait for funding to help fight guns and gangs,” wrote Ford. “Already in 2018, Toronto is on pace to have the deadliest gun-related homicide rate in years. This is unacceptable, and requires immediate action from all levels of government without reservation. I strongly believe that this issue requires rapid and decisive action from the City of Toronto and the federal government.”

As for the change in council from 47 to 25 seats, Ford wrote: “I’m very pleased that Toronto city council will now be able to conduct business for the citizens of Toronto more efficiently and effectively while saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”

But the key priority, said Ford, is to stop the gang violence and murders of innocent people, as young as ten years old.

“As you know, on Aug. 9, our government announced an additional $25 million, on top of the $76 million the province already provides to support the fight against guns and gangs in Toronto. These resources will be strategically targeted to ensure maximum impact in the fight to keep Toronto streets safe,” wrote Ford. “At that time, the Province of Ontario asked that the city and the federal government match our unprecedented investment.”

Tory, who a spokesman said plans to respond to Ford in a formal letter, told reporters at the CNE Friday that he has given staff the go-ahead to match what the premier has allotted for police in 2018, and will take it up with the new council for the remaining three years if he’s re-elected this fall.

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