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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
The National Post Misfires Again
17/03/2004

I must commend the National Post on their can-do attitude: "If at first you fail, try, try again".

After an earlier editorial attack on Mayor David Miller's crime plan flopped with poor reasoning, incompetent research and misleading use of statistics, they have taken another stab at it, accusing Miller of "wearing the twin blindfolds of utopian liberalism and political correctness". Unfortunately for them, they have failed once more.

They criticize Miller's anti-gangs plan, which they describe as favouring "more drop-in basketball courts in high-crime neighbourhoods, make-work jobs for crime-susceptible youth, community safety co-ordinators and posters discouraging gang membership". Instead they suggest we look to the United States for leadership, where -- despite recent improvements -- crime is still high and ghettos are still ghettos.

The irony is that while the Post criticizes Miller's plan, they also present a compelling argument for it:

An unpleasant fact Toronto politicians typically ignore is that a hugely disproportionate percentage of the city's violent criminals (not to mention their victims) are black -- immigrants from Jamaica, in particular. And as a Statistics Canada study released this week revealed, "a much higher proportion of black children age zero to 14 live with only one parent." According to the study, Blacks in Canada, the rate for black children is 46%, versus just 18% for non-blacks.

Since we also know from Statscan and elsewhere that children from father-absent homes are three to six times more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, commit juvenile crimes and be unemployed -- all good predictors of later criminal behaviour -- why is Mr. Miller not campaigning to promote family cohesion and discourage child-rearing out of wedlock in Toronto's crime-ridden black neighbourhoods? Oh, right -- because that would be politically incorrect.

So, let me get this right... Youth are likely to get on the wrong path, get into trouble -- starting small time and getting more serious -- and ultimately risk getting involved in gangs and crime if they come from fatherless homes. We all agree, right?

If even the National Post can recognize this, then surely it can only be partisan fervour that blocks them from recognizing that it makes sense for the City to step in and fill as much of that father's role as they reasonably can. Prevention pays dividends.

What else could we do? Perhaps the National Post would like to repeal polygamy laws and let David Miller marry all these women and become fathers for these kids. Not likely. But given that these kids are out there, it seems like "more drop-in basketball courts" et al might go some way to help these guys find some direction in life other than gangsterism. In fact, when I attended the CFRB Town Hall on this issue, the advice of people actually working with these youth was that the best way to help was to provide some sort of fatherly mentoring and some hope for some path other than crime. The parts of David Miller's plan heavily criticized by the Post focus on exactly these issues.

Of course, the Post also criticizes other elements of David Miller's plan. They slam him for asking the police to conduct security checks of shooting ranges and gun stores because "legitimate gunsmiths and sport shooters have little to do with Toronto's crime". They claim that the vast majority of the illegal guns on Toronto's streets are smuggled from the United States and suggest that domestic theft is not relevant. Meanwhile, the other right-wing newspaper reports: "Two thirds of the crime guns seized in Ontario come from home and store break-ins across Canada, police say."

More specifically, the National Post is lying (again) when it says "As Mr. Miller's own police chief, Julian Fantino, can tell him, most of the guns recovered at crime scenes in the city are smuggled into Canada; very, very few are stolen from lawful businesses or legal owners." Click here and read a PDF draft of the minutes of the January 22 Police Services Board meeting. Beginning on page 12 is a report from Julian Fantino about crime guns. I cite the following quotes from the Chief himself:

It is apparent, as identified in the attached report Appendix A, that although smuggled firearms have been positively identified as crime guns, there is an emerging trend toward the use of firearms of domestic origin by the criminal element. As set out in page 2 of Appendix A, only 24% of traceable crime guns have been traced to a United States origin. -- page 12

This Service must continue to focus investigative efforts on illegally imported firearms, but must also give greater investigative emphasis to domestic crime guns. These firearms are being obtained in increasing numbers from residential and commercial break and enters as well as through diversion from manufacturers and apparent exploitation of the de-registration processes in place within the Canadian Firearms Registry System. -- page 13

The dishonesty in this editorial is thick on the page. I am beginning to lose my sense of humour about this. Nevertheless, I look forward to the Post's third attempt at writing this editorial. It just shows how desperate the National Post is to find something -- anything -- to attack this mayor for.


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