When I was still living in Italy in the early seventies, the crime level was above normal. The country was beleaguered by political turmoil, strikes, red brigades, kidnappings, mafia, camorra, P2 and common criminals.
Some organizations were financing their activities through bank robberies at gun point. The situation was particularly bad in the south, where economic stagnation contributed to the problems. One large city, Naples, was my reference point. As the highest problem spot in Italy during that difficult period, over 300 murders would be committed in the city in an average year, or approximately one per day.
Fast forward to today's Canada and the city of Toronto. Even though the greater Toronto area is larger than Naples, we still have less murders per year. However, the mere fact that we can even compare Toronto today to Naples in the seventies is a blow to the myth of the safe and friendly Canada that was once the object of my dreams.
We just heard last week of statistics reporting that the crime rate in Ontario is down. However, the number of murders at gun point went up by 12%. Since violent crime is just the tip of the iceberg, is it possible that the statistics show only a partial picture? Is it possible that people do not bother to report minor crimes because they do not expect the police to investigate them? Is it possible that the police is understaffed?
This past long weekend had barely started when four shootings were reported in Toronto within 24 hours.
Don't we have the new federal gun control legislation in place? Wasn't it supposed to lower the number of gun crimes? Apparently, the opposite is true. When honest citizens are limited in their ability to defend themselves, criminals feel safer and have the audacity to commit crimes in crowded places and in plain view of everyone.
But, you may say, is this not the job of the police force to protect us? Where were they?
Firstly, the police force is under staffed. This is a direct result of the spending policies of the Liberal governments. They seem to be interested in spending money that encourages crime, more than spending money for the police to prevent it. Examples are the financing of more gambling establishments, the financing of the abortion industry, the legalization of marijuana, the needle exchange programs, and their plan to legalize prostitution.
Secondly, the criminals in Toronto were very happy to know that the police were on the road for the long weekend trying to catch old, ugly and rusty cars, people not wearing seatbelts and speeders. Yes, a moderate police presence on our roads offers a deterrent. However, when people drive cars irresponsibly, they eventually pay the price in higher insurance costs, and it is unlikely that they will continue with their irresponsibility.
Conversely, the police must give precedence to fighting violent crime. The criminals who are armed and prepared to shoot at other people should be apprehended, or the problem will escalate. Crime must not pay. The justice system as well should be reformed, so that people who are apprehended will receive compounded jail time in their second or third offence.
The police in Italy were able to crack down on organized crime not by catching speeders nor by gun legislation, but by investigating criminal activity.
I hope that the Provincial government and the Police Services Board will get the message: stop funding dubious activities, reform the justice system, hire more police, prioritize their operation in order to prevent violent crime, and do not allow the police to abandon the city for the long weekends.