Premier Ford sends second letter to Toronto mayor calling for action on gun violence
In the letter, sent Saturday afternoon, Ford said he stands with Toronto’s police officers but there is “much more to be done” and that, as mayor, Tory “has the power” to bring this before council.
“As mayor, you have the power to bring this issue before city council and match our investment, a move that would further assure Toronto residents that their municipal government takes the fight against guns and gangs as seriously as the province of Ontario does,” the letter read.
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The letter was sent ahead of a special city council meeting scheduled by Tory for Aug. 20 to discuss the Better Local Government Act, a piece of legislation passed earlier this week by the provincial government that will slash Toronto’s number of city councillors and municipal wards from 47 to 25. The most recent letter also comes after a first letter, sent by Ford on Friday, asking Tory to bring this issue to the Monday meeting.
Tory responded to Ford’s initial letter Friday afternoon, saying that special meetings are called solely for a single issue and, thus, he can not bring gun violence to the table at Monday’s meeting.
“As you would remember from your time on city council, special meetings are confined to the issue for which they are called so as to ensure their efficiency, accountability and transparency on behalf of the people of Toronto,” Tory wrote.
“Of course, we welcome your government’s announced funding to help our city’s serious and ongoing efforts to combat gun violence in Toronto. The safety of our citizens is my utmost priority, and I welcome all additional efforts and support from other levels of government.”
Tory reiterated steps he and city council have taken thus far to combat gun violence, such as the Gun Violence Reduction Plan and an application through the National Crime Prevention Strategy fund that asks for $32.6 million for community-based prevention initiatives.
“City council has already taken all necessary and responsible steps to ensure that our government can respond appropriately and expediently to the needs of our citizens during this election period, and so no additional council action is required,” Tory wrote.
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In his initial letter, Ford said Toronto cannot wait for funding when it comes to gun violence in the city.
“Mayor, I submit to you that the citizens of Toronto cannot wait for funding to help fight guns and gangs. Already in 2018, Toronto is on pace to have the deadliest gun-related homicide rate in years,” he wrote.
This is an opinion Ford echoed in Saturday’s letter.
“The residents of Toronto should not be forced to wait until after the next municipal election to see real action against the menace of guns and gangs,” the most recent letter read.
Ford, however, said now is the time for action.
“I thank you for your response to my recent letter. As you know, Toronto has experienced record levels of gun violence this summer. Toronto residents have been shaken by the tragic events and violence we have all witnessed in the last number of months. Now, more than ever, is the time to work collaboratively and provide the resources and tools our police officers need to keep Toronto streets safe.”
Tory addressed the second letter while speaking to reporters at Toronto’s Taste of Manila festival Saturday saying that the City is committed to matching the $25 million funding by the provincial government, but again reminded Ford that changing Monday’s special meeting agenda isn’t possible.
“We are of course going to match the money. I said that a week ago,” Tory told reporters. “Unfortunately, we can’t debate gun violence at the special council meeting because the special council meeting can only debate one topic. That is the way they are set up.”
“We are working well with both of the other governments… to make sure we can keep Toronto safe,” he said. “Both of them are putting significant resources into helping Toronto with that. I hope with some legislative changes, including taking a look at the question of why anyone in the City of Toronto would need a handgun and questions like that we’re going to make great progress on keeping people safe.”
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