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Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

Politics | Friday, January 6th, 2006 | 11 years, 8 months ago

With the rise of gun violence in Toronto, the focus of the impending election has taken a turn from “the issues” to “the issue”. A recent poll shows Canada’s Conservative party taking the lead by a wide margin, showing nearly 7% of voters changing sides from the Liberal party in little more than a week. It seems likely that this change of heart is indicative of the social climate in Toronto – Torontonians fiercely hate guns, or at least guns that have been fired. Unfortunately, this noble sentiment may prove to be our downfall.

On boxing day at one of the city’s largest shopping malls, a 15 year old white girl was shot and killed by a black youth – an event that sparked nearly unprecedented outrage from Torontonian citizens and from various religious, political, and ethnic groups.

It’s been argued that Toronto didn’t truly care about gun violence until a black boy killed a white girl. It’s been argued that we didn’t make a fuss until it happened on Boxing Day. It’s been argued that the uproar was incited by political candidates in order to curry favour.

In a city where white is the minority, is it possible that race is the catalyst? Is it simply a coincidence? Was this shooting the last straw?

Regardless of cause, I surmise the spike in Conservative support is the direct result of this unpleasant incident – Toronto wants revenge. Bad. And they’re ready to elect whichever politician can put this 17 year old boy in a world of pain.

Which politician is that? Well, let’s take a look at the top 3 parties’ platform on gun violence.

Conservative Party: Increase police funding and presence, impose tougher minimum sentences, arm border officers, but allow citizens to own licensed handguns.

Liberal Party: Ban the ownership of handguns by all but police and border guards, impose tougher minimum sentences, increase police funding and presence.

New Democratic Party: Ban the ownership of handguns by all but police and border guards, increase school and job education funding, increase low income housing funding.

Is federal mandate even the correct course of action in this matter? Judges have traditionally decried direct government involvement in law enforcement – they feel the law should be determined by lawyers. How close is Canada to adopting some states’ nonsensical “3 strikes” policy?

The most disturbing factor in this fiasco is not the crimes themselves, but the reason for them. In all the media’s hubbub and all the police’s investigations, it seems that no one has asked the perpetrators WHY they have illegal guns. Surely, not simply because they know they can get away with it due to lax laws. There is a motive, a need, a fear, that they feel the country cannot alleviate.

Canada, at what price do you wish revenge? What is the best solution to the influx of illegal weapons smuggled from the USA? Is it wisest to trim the sharp edges from our weeds or to uproot them altogether?

If this issue is important to you, study the policies of the parties well and vote on January 23 for the party that will best serve you and your neighbours.

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