Mike Sullivan, our MP, spoke in the House this week about handguns and crime. He described our neighbourhood in a dramatic, violent light. He was also entirely incorrect. He said,
Mr. Speaker, when we talk about personal security in the country, the other side seems to forget that there is far more danger to the residents in my riding from handguns than there is from terrorism. In fact, there were four funerals this summer of young men in their teens and early twenties as a result of handgun violence, all of them were from Somalia.
This is flat-out wrong. Sullivan is almost certainly referring to the murders of four Somalian men in Jamestown this summer, a troubled neighbourhood in Etobicoke. Jamestown is not in our riding; it is in Etobicoke North, held by Kirsty Duncan, a Liberal.
In fact, there has not been a single murder in Weston so far this year. In 12 Division, there have been two murders; one occurred after a soccer game at Eglinton flats—a 40-something man was murdered, likely by his brother, after a soccer game. This is hardly the stuff of nightmares.
Weston has a reputation problem. People—including many readers and friends—incorrectly think that Weston is dangerous. It is not. We have too many muggings, yes, but we have very few other crimes. Murders are down by half from last year. Rapes and common assaults are flat. Toronto’s crime rate is lower than almost any other city in North America.
Comments such as Mr Sullivan’s do not help Weston’s reputation. They harm it. They make things worse: good people want to stay away from bad neighbourhoods—and that makes bad neighbourhoods bad. Reputation begets crime, which begets reputation.
I asked Sullivan for a comment; Paul Ferreira, his special assistant, got back to me and said that Mr Sullivan has been quite sick with a cold this week and that he took part in the debate anyway because he felt it to be important.
Mr Sullivan called me to discuss this post. He said,
“I didn’t mean to infer that there were four funerals in the riding. I’m sorry that you took it that way, and I can see how you would. My point is that I’m trying to hold this government to account for the proliferation of handguns…. My point in raising these issues is not to say ‘we’re bad; don’t come here’; my point is to say, ‘we need help’—and more help that we’re getting.”
On that, we entirely agree.