Tonks responds to shootings last week

In a long and thoughtful email, Alan Tonks has responded to the double murder last week in Weston.

I asked Mr Tonks three questions:

  • What is the Liberal Party of Canada doing to address violent crime in Weston?
  • What is the government of Canada doing?
  • What are you in particular doing?

In his response, he speaks out against the “murderous victimization of the innocent in our community” and castigates the gangsters who have caused the “intimidation, street violence, and murderous drug wars”.

Tonks also explained the government’s response. With Liberal support, the Feds have increased mandatory sentences for violent crimes, built more jails, and increased the number of police across the country. His party, he says, has reservations about rehabilitation and dealing “with the disease of criminal activity and not just the symptoms”.

The full text of his email is below.

I am sorry that once again, with two more shootings, I find myself responding through your web-site on this issue of violence. Obviously, I would prefer to comment on the quality of life issues and actions businesses and residents are taking in Weston.

It is increasingly perplexing that the circumstances around these two murders, according to the news, involve a student at Weston Collegiate and a young person, gainfully employed and in-training as a chef. Perplexing, however, as part of our community-based strategy is to offer attention to vulnerable youth.

What then went wrong here? I suspect that, as police have suggested in other cases, gang and drug activity and its barbaric pull have resulted in intimidation, street violence and murderous turf wars.

To answer your questions on institutional and personal response; the government has increased mandatory sentencing for violent acts of crime, instituted stronger parole/court obligations, committed to building more jails and announced an increase in funding for 25,000 police officers across the country. The Liberal Party has supported all these intentions with the following caveats. The 25,000 police officers increase has not yet been delivered. Prisons on their own will incarcerate but not rehabilitate and more support must be given to community-based initiatives that deal with the disease of criminal activity and not just the symptoms. Here, in Toronto and York South-Weston, we have supported police officers working with young people in our schools and the special creation through 31 Division and 12 division of drug and gang squad officers working with intelligence to act before the public and innocent youth are victimized

For my part, personally, for over ten years, I have been supporting the mentoring program with our Trades Council on pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship training. The most recent program is highlighted in my Fall 2010 Householder – The Hammerheads Program approved by the Central Ontario Building Trades. The important thing is to ensure that our local young people have jobs to go to when they graduate and this requires local job creation in projects like the Kodak redevelopment, GO Expansion and Eglinton Rapid Project.

Please be assured that over the next few weeks we will be meeting with 31/12 Divisions to pursue expansion and co-ordination of our private and public street camera system and any other initiatives that will deter this murderous victimization of the innocent in our community.

Double Double trouble trouble

241-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh indeed.

Double Double Pizza and Chicken on Jane St got yellow-carded on Oct 1 for being generally gross. The franchise was dinged for failing to provide a hand washing sink, having a food handler without headgear, and for failing to properly clean rooms and equipment.

Two pizzas with double quease, thanks!

Tonks breaks ranks with Liberals to vote against war dodgers

Alan Tonks was the sole dissenter in the Liberal Party when it came time to vote on a bill that would allow war resisters to find haven in Canada.

Bill C-440 was proposed by Weston resident Gerrard Kennedy. According to Dean Del Mastro, (Conservative MP for Peterborough), the bill:

would let military deserters from any country participating in an armed conflict not sanctioned by the United Nations stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. It proposes to allow those individuals to remain in Canada based on a moral, political or religious objection. It would allow those subject to compulsory military service to refuse to return to service in their country of nationality. It proposes that the government would stay the removal for these applications until a decision on permanent residence for the individuals could be made.

Support for the bill broke along party lines, but with notable walkouts. The Conservatives voted against it. The Bloc, NDP, and most Liberals voted for it. But, because many Liberals, including Michael Ignatieff, left the House right before the vote, it did not pass.

Tonks has a history of voting against his party. Notably, in the past, he voted against same-sex marriage.

Victims identified: One a local student

The victims of Wednesday night’s shooting have been identified.

Courthney Facey, 18, and Mike James, 23, were murdered in an alleyway off Weston Rd. Facey was shot in the head, and James was shot in the stomach by assailants in a black BMW SUV with custom rims.

Neither victim was known to police, and neither was armed. Facey was a student at Weston CI, and loved to dance. James was deaf, an apprentice chef at Woodbine racetrack, and a graduate of Humber College.

The Star has a touching article on the victims.

Retirement home on King is deplorable

The Star is running a front-page article on the deplorable conditions in the In Touch retirement home in Weston.

People left in urine and feces-filled diapers for hours. Washrooms with no toilet paper so residents, some suffering from dementia, wiped themselves with their hands or a flimsy communal towel. No stimulation. Bad food. Poorly trained and underpaid staff, with just one on duty overnight.

The In Touch retirement home is in the Tyrrell house at King and Rosemount.

The Star sent a reporter undercover to live at the house for one week. What he found is shocking.

Candidates outline policies on crime in Weston

I emailed all the municipal candidates to ask about the recent shootings. I asked them how their platforms address violent crime in Weston, how violent crimes can be prevented, and what their platforms offer the youth of Weston. Leo Marshall and Fulvio Sansone responded quickly by email. Frances Nunziata and I spoke on the phone. Abdi Hashised did not return my email by the time this story was posted.

Frances Nunziata

Councillor Nunziata emphasized her long experience in Weston, and said that her most recent efforts have been trying to stamp out illegal and after-hours bars that draw criminals and other drug-dealers.

The double shooting, she said “makes me sick. Crime has always been on the priority list for me, going back for the last 22 years.”

“I’ve walked about with the police. We try to target problem establishments”, she said. “We’ve gone on a number of blitzes with Alcohol and Gaming. We’ve laid a number of charges. We’re trying to get their licenses revoked.”

The young men were shot in an area popular for drug dealing, she said. Police told her that they were not from the area.

Fulvio Sansone

In a long email, Sansone said that revitalizing the BIA and businesses would reduce crime in Weston.

My plans are to revitalize York South Weston primarily by strengthening our existing BIAs in Weston and Mt. Dennis…. Through revitalization of our business corridors we then create an environment that is not conducive to crime… you don’t hear about shootings in the Beach or Bloor West Village because that is not the type of environment where criminals thrive!

More after school as well as Parks & Recreation Programs are needed for the area youth.

Sansone  says that creating community groups will give Weston more clout:

We have some very valuable and effective resident & community groups in our Ward and we need to establish similar groups in York South Weston where they do not exist. With the strength and organization of our combined community groups our voice will then carry the weight needed to have our Provincial & Federal representatives make the necessary changes to laws that will give our police the tools needed and to put teeth into sentences that will act as deterrents.

Leo Marshall

In her email to me, Marshall said

This issue of crime goes deeper than what we note and the underlying factors need in-depth examination. Poverty, the lack of jobs and even educational opportunity all hinder the development of a community where the standards that are required are met and not in decline.

Presumably taking a shot at the mayoral front-runner, Rob Ford, she said

Policing and the ability to reach our youth through providing for them activities (perhaps a structured Community Centre) will help, but we need to go further. Certainly this is not the time to cut funding to organizations which offer outreach programs but the time to enhance them.

A few new details in double murder

Toronto Police and the media have released a few new details about the double shooting in Weston last night.

Two young men were shot to death in a barrage of gunfire after an argument in an alley on Weston Rd. More than 10 shots were fired, and several cars were hit. One man, 18, had been shot in the head. He appears to have been killed at the scene. The other victim, 23, was shot in the abdomen. He died in hospital.

The men were not known to police, and their names have not yet been released.  It is not even clear at this time if they were both intended victims or bystanders. One man was shot beside a car, where he collapsed. The other may have been chased down, or dragged himself onto Weston Rd.

According to the police, a black SUV was seen fleeing the scene northbound on Weston Rd. Police are asking for the public’s help.