Ford says ‘enough is enough’ after Toronto Jewish school shooting

Click to play video: 'Doug Ford blasted for comments appearing to be aimed at immigrants'
Doug Ford blasted for comments appearing to be aimed at immigrants
WATCH - Doug Ford blasted for comments appearing to be aimed at immigrants – May 30, 2024

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Thursday accused people of bringing “problems from everywhere else in the world” to the province after a recent shooting at a Toronto Jewish girls school.

Ford made those sharp comments alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in the city, days after students and staff at Rabbi Yaacov Vidal of the Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School said they were shaken by what happened, but undeterred.

Toronto police told Global News Thursday the investigation remains ongoing, and no arrests have been made.

There is no indication from police at this time that any of the suspects involved were immigrants, as Ford appeared to suggest, adding: “Before you plan on moving to Canada — don’t come to Canada if you’re going to start terrorizing neighborhoods like this.”

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“We have zero tolerance for this anywhere in Ontario. It doesn’t matter what race, what religion you’re from, I’d be saying the exact same thing if it was another community as well, but enough is enough,” he said.

“You’re bringing your problems from everywhere else in the world, you’re bringing it to Ontario and you’re going after other Canadians – as the prime minister said: unacceptable.”

Click to play video: 'Ford tells immigrants to ‘not come to Canada’ if they’ll be ‘terrorizing neighbourhoods’ after Toronto Jewish school shooting'
Ford tells immigrants to ‘not come to Canada’ if they’ll be ‘terrorizing neighbourhoods’ after Toronto Jewish school shooting

Police later told Global News it does not track and or disclose the immigration status of suspects or victims. On Thursday afternoon, Ford said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he meant to stress “there is more that unites us than divides us.”

“While there will always be room for disagreement, violent acts that target specific religions or ethnicities do not reflect who we are or the values that represent our province,” he said in part.

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Ford and Trudeau spoke after news of another Jewish school shooting on Wednesday, this time in Montreal. Trudeau said he’s “disgusted by these vile and despicable acts of antisemitism.”

“We have continued to call for an end to hatred and intolerance in Canada, whether it be antisemitism or Islamophobia. Events overseas that are devastating and incredibly difficult to watch should not be spilling over into Canadians hating on other Canadians,” he said.

“We are all united in our strength in diversity, our desire for a better country and a better world.”

These shootings come amid a rise in apparent hate crimes in Canada, which has amplified in recent months amid Israel’s ongoing conflict against Hamas, which began on Oct. 7, 2023, following an attack by the terrorist group.

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The number of antisemitic incidents in Canada more than doubled in 2023 compared with the year prior, according to an annual audit performed by Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada released in May.

Click to play video: 'Toronto police investigate shots fired at elementary school'
Toronto police investigate shots fired at elementary school

In the audit, the group logged 5,791 incidents that meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. That represented a 109 per cent increase over 2022, when there were 2,769 incidents.

The bulk of the reported incidents — 4,847 — took place online in the form of harassment. For offline incidents, B’nai Brith said it tracked 77 reports of physical violence compared with 25 the year prior.

In-person harassment and vandalism – ranging from instances of graffiti to arson – all saw increases over 2022 at 405 and 462 incidents reported, respectively.

Click to play video: '‘Vile act’: Trudeau, Ford condemn shooting at Toronto Jewish girls school'
‘Vile act’: Trudeau, Ford condemn shooting at Toronto Jewish girls school

The data falls in line with figures collected by Statistics Canada in its annual look at police-reported hate crimes. Since 2019, Jews have been the most targeted religious group based on police data, with 502 incidents in 2022.

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Muslims are the second most targeted group, with 108 police-reported hate crimes in 2022. According to a November 2023 Senate report on Islamophobia, an additional 1,723 crimes were motivated by racial or ethnic hatred involving Muslim people in 2021.

Ford faces calls to apologize

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles told Global News Ford should “apologize” for his “racist” remarks.

“Fighting hate with hate has never worked. Fighting anti-semitism with xenophobia won’t keep communities safe,” she said in a statement.

“I’m appalled by the Premier’s racist remarks. He should apologize.”

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It’s important Ford knows “words of elected leaders have real world consequences,” said Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s special representative on combatting Islamophobia, in a statement on X.

“Legitimizing irrational fears, scapegoating, or spreading unfounded conspiracies about immigrants, or any group, undermines social cohesion and safety,” she said in part.

“We can and should condemn antisemitism and the heinous acts against Jewish schools without fueling further hate and division.”

At the news conference, Ford said he’s “had it up to here.”

“I don’t care what background, what religion, what race you come from. Diversity is our No. 1 selling tool around the world. We have 110 nationalities here in Ontario, 200 languages being spoken and guess what? Ninety-nine per cent of the people get along,” he said.

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“There’s wars going on all around the world, but we still get along. So, all this other nonsense that we’ve been seeing over numbers and numbers of months: enough is enough. I’ve just had it up to here. And guess what? People outside of those communities, they’ve had it, too. They aren’t used to this happening here in Ontario. I’m done with this stuff.”

— with files from David Baxter

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