Message From Mayor to Private Security Firms Harassing the Homeless in Toronto: Let the City Handle It

View north of Dundas on Spadina Chinatown.

View north of Dundas on Spadina Chinatown.

Toronto Sun, Aug.21, 2008 – Let city handle it, Mayor David Miller says:

“Chinatown shopkeepers should let the city do its job — but with social workers not police, Mayor David Miller said yesterday. Miller said he didn’t support the hiring of a private security firm to patrol the streets of the busy Spadina Ave.-area to remove the homeless. — [end of excerpt]

The City of Toronto and the Spadina Chinatown Business association have a much more serious problem than homelessness.  It is a serious oversight on their part to blame crime in the area on the homeless – Chairman Stephen Chan blames the homeless for car thefts and other crime without any arrests data to uphold the claim. He need look no further than the youth gangs in his own neighbourhood – they are not homeless and they are not merely a nuisance on the streets. They are dangerous armed criminals. Refer to the Toronto Police Bulletin below and my Project417 update and commentarty following –

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With all this news recently regarding the private policing by security firm Intelligarde, hired by the Spadina Chinatown BIA to move homeless off the streets, I thought it was important to highlight the real crime issues faced by Chinatown. The following is a Toronto Police Community Bulletin issued August 18th, the same timeframe as when the Sun is reporting on homeless harrassment:

Man faces 12 charges – Firearm seized Dundas Street West/Spadina Avenue area

On Monday, August 18, 2008, at 7:40 p.m., 14 Division Community Response officers were on patrol in the Dundas Street West/Spadina Avenue area.

It is alleged that the accused was in possession of a loaded firearm, the accused fled on foot, the accused was arrested and a loaded 9 mm Mac 11 machine pistol was seized. Qoheleth Chong, 19, of Toronto, has been charged with – Careless use of a firearm, Possession of a prohibited weapon knowing its possession is unauthorized, Unauthorized possession of a firearm, Possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition, Possession of prohibited weapon obtained by the commission of an offence, Carry concealed weapon, Possession prohibited weapon, Carry concealed weapon, prohibited device or prohibited ammunition, Possession of ammunition contrary to prohibition order, Possession of firearm contrary to prohibition order, Fail to comply recognizance, Fail to Comply with Probation.

He is scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall, on Tuesday, August 26, 2008, room 101, at 10 a.m. Contact: Constable Tony Vella, Public Information, for Detective Izzy Bernardo, 14 Division 416-808-1400 [end of bulletin]

Youth gangs tag a new storefront in the Spadina Dundas area.

Youth gangs tag a new storefront in the Spadina Dundas area.

While the Chinatown BIA and Intelligarde are rousting harmless homeless panhandlers, the police are right there in the neighbourhood in broad daylight and a loaded 9 mm Mac 11 machine pistol was seized from a youth nineteen years of age. He probably started out young with the rest of the growing gangs of neighbourhood teens who have plagued the Chinatown business district with destructive tagging or grafitti. Do you need to ask who is responsible for increased crime and drugs in the area?  This is not an isolated incident and highlights why the Toronto Police see homelessness and panhandlers as lower priority issues.

What would happen should the unarmed Intelligarde patrols come upon one of the armed Chinatown area criminals during a break-in, drug deal or other crime? The accused Qoheleth Chong is not homeless, but a resident of the same Chinatown neighbourhood.  And yet the business owners have been duped by their representatives that street homelessness is the top issue they are facing worthy of thousands of dollars of private policing.  The presence of those same surly security guards wil actually have a negative impact on their business as the public will react to confrontations between normally unobtrusive panhandlers and the guards who roust them. It’s an accident waiting to happen. The public or perhaps even tourists are bound to get caught up in an altercation sooner or later. Even the presence of those security guards on public city sidewalks is an affront to our freedoms and actually endangers our safe enjoyment of public property. The sidewalks in front of the Chinatown businesses are not private property but public. If they have a concern about the homeless blocking access to their doors, or being drunk and disorderly in public (a small minority),  then they need only call police who will respond. Perhaps they should stop selling Chinese cooking wine at five bottles for five bucks.

If the Chinatown business community was truly concerned about the sidewalks being blocked by the homeless, a far worse problem is the huge number of illegal, unlicenced street vendors (see my photo at the top) who block anywhere from a third to a half of public sidewalks, as well as the huge mountains of garbage and empty boxes from the sidewalk Chinatown markets that are to be at curbside but turn walking the public thoroughfare into threading the eye of the needle. This is all about appearances – Chairman Stephen Chan is concerned the homeless are “unkempt”, pehaps he could organize clothing bank donations from the vendors who block the sidewalk with clothing racks of T-shirts at a half dozen for $7.99 . According to the Sun news reports there were only 12 homeless rousted by security – they could have been clothed for less than twenty bucks.  Community outreach would be much more effective than community policing. The city and the Chinatown business community need to open their eyes to the real problems facing the area – why are your youth armed with automatic 9mm weapons? and where are the weapons coming from? – and stop blaming their problems on helpless homeless people living in crisis.

The Intelligarde Security philosophy towards community policing and some revealing in person insight into how that firm’s president views the public is the subject of another article on my Commentary page. Click on the tab at the top of the page or here to read more about Intelligarde President Ross McLeod.

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Assembly of First Nations in Canada – 7 Point Plan

The Assembly of First Nations in Canada issued a seven point plan to the government of Canada to address reconciliation with aboriginal peoples, redress injustices and improve the quality of life for all native people. The majority of First Nations children live in abject poverty. Although aboriginal people are only 2% of Canada’s population they represent more than 25% of the nations’ street homeless AND 50% of the federal prison inmates.

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Canada’s Injustice to First Nations

Canada votes against UN declaration on aboriginal rights

From Yahoo! Canada News & CP

By Steve Lambert

(CP) – Aboriginal leaders, human rights groups and the opposition blasted the Conservative government Thursday after Canada voted against a United Nations declaration on aboriginal rights.

They accused the government of trying to sweep aside an important show of support for aboriginals that took 20 years of negotiations among UN countries.

“By opposing this declaration the Conservative government has signalled to aboriginal Canadians that their rights aren’t worth defending,” Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said in a statement.

“This is a stain on the country’s international reputation,” said Phil Fontaine, head of the Assembly of First Nations.

“It is disappointing to see this government vote against recognizing the basic rights of Canada’s First Peoples.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed easily Thursday, 143-4. Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States voted against and 11 countries abstained.

Canada said it could not support the document because its broad wording appeared to give native communities sweeping powers that could contravene existing law.

“It’s inconsistent with the Canadian Constitution, with Supreme Court decisions and with our own treaty negotiations and obligations,” Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said from Ottawa.

Among the many problems with the document, Strahl said, are sections that say laws that affect aboriginals should only be passed with the prior consent of First Nations.

“We’d have to consult with 650 First Nations to do that. I mean, it’s simply not doable,” he said.

Another section of the UN declaration says aboriginals “have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions.”

That is also unworkable, according to Strahl.

“Some people … say that means we can have our own legislatures, our own council in our own language,” Strahl said.

“But no one’s quite sure, and that’s the trouble with language like that.”

Critics argued the UN declaration is not binding on any country, and is more of a symbolic commitment to aboriginal rights.

“It’s an aspirational document…it wouldn’t contravene laws that are in place,” NDP Indian affairs critic Jean Crowder said from Nanaimo, B.C.

“I think (Canada’s vote) is a very cowardly and, I would say, un-Canadian approach to human rights.”

Aboriginal leaders, however, felt the document was more than just a vague expression of support.

“It recognizes who we are, that we have these fundamental rights,” said John Paul, executive director of the Atlantic Policy Congress, which represents 35 aboriginal communities

“To us it’s like the U.S. Declaration of Independence, because it lays out a number of inalienable truths about us as aboriginal people in the world.”

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