No mayor seems to read his city council better than John Tory in Toronto. With a few simple proposals, Tory defanged the move by the council’s inner-city left wing to cut the police budget. It led to a long day of debate to the disappointment of the downtown councillors as well as their supporters, camped out in Nathan Phillips Square.
But what made these foolish people think they were going to get anywhere calling for defunding of the police? In Ontario, the police are governed by the respective police services board for that municipality. The chair of the board in Toronto is a citizen appointed by city council, the vice-chair is a citizen appointed by the province, two additional citizens are appointed by the province, two councillors are appointed by the city council and the mayor is an ex-officio member. The city just gets to pay for the police.
You do not casually defund the largest municipal police force in Canada. Toronto police have more than 5000 uniformed officers and a budget of more than a billion dollars. Mayor Tory’s motion for council was a recommendation for body cameras and to investigate having specially trained, unarmed personnel to handle the approximately 20,000 calls each year that the police dispatch to assist emotionally disturbed persons—out of about a million calls. If that happens in the next year, prepare to be surprised.
There is no question that Canadians want and deserve better trained peace officers. One of our problems is that too many of these pop-up pressure groups watch too much American television. We do not have ingrained racism nor do we have systemic racism in Canada. And neither are we perfect. We have to continue to train our police better. We have to remember they are a para-military force, there to serve and protect. We have to stamp out any racist attitudes. Mutual respect is what builds a better country.
Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry
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