Sow and Ye Shall Reap

The latest in a string of shootings is no surprise to most people in Weston. It is however a source of mild puzzlement to police and politicians. They simply don’t understand why Weston is seemingly plagued by such events. Let’s look at the facts of the situation we find ourselves in.

An exquisite combination of political bungling, poor planning and corruption permitted the building of large numbers of low income housing several decades ago. This low income housing became a magnet for immigrants seeking a new life in Canada. The village of Weston as part of the City of York was given a major challenge; how to assimilate large numbers of new Canadians and help them to become productive citizens. Unfortunately, Weston has been largely left on its own to achieve this while dealing with problems that have arisen.

The Federal Government is in charge of immigration and knows exactly the stresses placed on Weston by immigration. We need more resources, not fewer and Alan Tonks should be shouting this from the rooftops every day, instead of being satisfied with the occasional photo op and voting with his Tory friends. Lord knows, Alan Tonks is well paid for his work and will receive a pension better than most would dream of as a salary. Is he worth the money? Not in my books. One of his latest efforts is a poorly-written private member’s bill supporting electrification of urban commuter rail operations. Dear old Alan couldn’t even be bothered to check for grammatical errors in the bill! Private members’ bills rarely become law.

The surest way to help first-generation children of immigrants is through education. Schools need extra resources and the very best teachers. Perhaps Alan Tonks’ son Chris could help here. He is our public school trustee.

Laura Albanese is a Liberal MPP in the McGuinty government. As an immigrant herself she should know that Weston needs more resources. She has been an MPP since October of 2007 and seems to have achieved little in that time. Her activity in the provincial legislature comprises mainly of softball questions to Liberal ministers. She has submitted a private member’s bill in favour of electrifying the GO Train system with priority for the Georgetown corridor.

Frances Nunziata has in the past been a fighter for Weston and was instrumental in exposing corruption in the City of York. She has spearheaded some important initiatives such as moving Metrolinx towards serving the people of Weston rather than not stopping in the community. Now, she seems to be lost in the details rather than the bigger picture. Where are we in the planning of a community centre for the area? Is Weston getting value for money from its police services?

Police seem to regard Weston as a dangerous place. When a major crime has been committed we see lots of police. Between crimes we see nothing. When was the last time any of us saw a police officer on foot patrol? According to a recent John Sewell article on police in Toronto, the average police officer averages one dispatched call every 20 hours of duty. Driving around waiting for problems to happen might not be the best approach any more.

The TAVIS initiative supposedly assigns extra police officers to areas ‘experiencing an increase in violent activity’. I wonder if Weston sees any of these officers.

This latest attempted murder seems to have happened at a party or an after-hours club. These are notoriously hard to keep track of as they spring up spontaneously. That said, Weston Road is a fairly obvious place for patrols – would a large number of cars parked in an area at 4 a.m. be worth investigating? Admittedly, that would require courage and initiative but isn’t that what we pay our officers for?

Last for censure is the criminal element in Weston which seems to feel the need to carry weapons and use them when their delicate egos are threatened by an accidental brush or an ill-timed comment. Real men don’t carry guns, they find work and lose the fantasy that they are part of a gang. Real men try to better themselves in the face of adversity—they don’t choose to be a plague on society.

Man shot in head at Weston and Lawrence

It’s becoming a familiar story: after visiting an illegal, after-hours bar, someone shoots, and someone dies.

It happened again on Sunday morning. The Toronto Sun reports that a man in his 20s with no identification was shot in the head outside a booze can at 1714 Weston Rd.

The victim was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. I have not been able to find any information on his welfare.

Shamefully, The Toronto Star has this story following—I kid you not—a missing dog. Lives lost in Weston are less important to the Star, it seems, than lost dogs.

This too is an old story. The double-murders last year of Courthney Facey and Mike James, two young, black men, were barely reported in the downtown media. Had that been a brazen double shooting on Avenue Rd instead of Weston Rd, I think we would have seen an entirely different newspaper.

If you wish to write a letter to the editor, you can do so here.

Alan Tonks Votes Republican

Alan Tonks seems to be voting more and more with the right wing of the Tory Party these days. According to LifeSiteNews.com, he recently voted to oppose a private member’s bill seeking to add ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ to the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code’s hate crimes section. Tonks wasn’t alone; six of his liberal colleagues voted the same way. In spite of Mr. Tonks, the House of Commons passed the bill anyway. The addition to the legislation squeaked through largely thanks to six Tory MPs (including four cabinet ministers) who voted for the bill, designed to prevent discrimination against transgendered individuals.

Perhaps Mr. Tonks would do well to start worrying about bringing some jobs to Weston rather than aligning with the Tea Party North.

Purse snatchings

Police report that there have been two purse snatchings in the past few days at the corner of Jane and Lawrence. The incidents appear to be unrelated, however.

In the first case, a 55-year-old woman was approached at about 9 pm on Monday by a man who pushed her to the ground and stole her purse, which contained cash and prescription drugs. He fled, and the victim had minor injuries.

In the second case, on Wednesday at 6 pm, a 63-year-old woman was approached from behind by a suspect who pushed her to the ground and attempted to steal her purse. He was not able to, however, and fled empty-handed.

It is small consolation that the cases are likely unrelated. The suspect in Monday’s mugging is black; the suspect in Wednesday’s is white.

Private garbage a mixed bag

The Globe has an article on the benefits, and detriments, that privatized garbage may bring to Weston.

Those of us who are new to town may not know that garbage pickup was privately provided here for many years. It was only brought into the same collection service as the rest of the city in 2007. And, if Rob Ford gets his way, it may be privatized again: Ford would like to privatize garbage collection west of Yonge.

According to the article:

In 2006, the last full year that Turtle Island Recycling, Inc. provided the service in her ward, Ms. Nunziata’s office logged just seven complaints. In 2007, when CUPE Local 416 workers took over in August, the figure increased from nine in the first half of the year to 27 in the second half. Since then, the number of complaints has grown to 49 in 2008, 56 in 2009 and 57 in 2010.

“I use to receive calls from constituents about how courteous the [private collectors] were,” said Ms. Nunziata, who represents Ward 11 (York South-Weston). “Now I get complaints that they [city workers] are emptying the garbage and just throwing their garbage can in the middle of the street.”

While Nunziata’s office received many more complaints, the 311 service has logged fewer complaints than in Etobicoke, which has privatized service:

The Globe, meanwhile, found that from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7, 2010, the number of calls to 311 for “missed” residential garbage pickup in the daytime was 107 for York and 510 for Etobicoke. That’s 0.16 per cent of households in York compared with 0.41 per cent for privately serviced Etobicoke.

YSW to be a race to watch in provincial election

Veteran NDPer Paul Ferreira will be running against incumbent Laura Albanese in the next provincial election,  according to InsideToronto. This could be a fantastic race.

Paul Ferreira has held the York South-Weston seat before; he squeaked out a victory in the 2007 by-election, before losing his grip only a few months later in the 2007 general election. Both elections were decided by only a few hundred votes.

While Ferreira has been out of office, he hasn’t been out of power. He was chief of staff to Howard Hampton and now works as a senior advisor to Andrea Horwath, the party leader, InsideToronto says. Ferreira has plenty of electioneering experience, too; this will be his seventh race.

Laura Albanese won’t go gently, I’m sure. She’s been an effective, if quiet, representative for York South-Weston. She sits on committees and seems to have a healthy record in the legislature. She gets the job done without drawing attention to her successes. And that may be a liability: Albanese, while capable and effective, doesn’t have much flash.

Frances Nunziata has flash. Rob Ford has flash. Ignatieff figured flash out, after a while, and Jack Layton seems to have been flashing since the day he was born. Flash is galvanizing. Flash is often off-putting. And Albanese just doesn’t polarize enough to pull people out to vote.

Certainly, the political currents are against Ferreira. We voted strongly for the right-wing Ford administration and re-elected socially conservative Alan Tonks by a large margin. Also, the NDP has almost always been the bridesmaid here, and rarely the bride.

But they’ve sometime been close contests, and Ferriera knows his stuff and is a party insider. If Ferreira can sparkle in our somewhat grey little community, he might just stand a chance.

Bad month to be in the pharmacy business

Another pharmacy in Weston was robbed this week. The Main Drug Mart at 2160 Weston Rd, was robbed at about 6:30 pm on February 7.  The pharmacy is on the west side of the intersection of Weston Rd and Church.

A man wearing a disguise threatened an employee with a handgun. He demanded and got cash and prescription drugs before fleeing. Nobody was hurt in the robbery.

Last week, the River Hill Pharmacy at 2086 Lawrence Ave (near Weston Rd) was robbed. The thief also produced a handgun and demanded cash and drugs before fleeing. The cases may be related, but the acts were committed by different people. In the first case the robber was white; in the second he was black.

Last year, Weston Drug Mart, across the street from Main Drug Mart was robbed similarly.