Former Edmonton health chief to investigate listeriosis outbreak

Former Edmonton health chief to investigate listeriosis outbreak.

 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday that Sheila Weatherill, a past CEO of Capital Health in Edmonton, has been  appointed  to act as an independent investigator into the outbreak, which sparked a recall of many sliced meat products across Canada. [end of quote]

This only after criticism earlier this month that the PM was delaying the critical process and putting Canadians at risk. The new deadline for the report is now not due until late July, a four month setback and almost a full year after the deadly Listeria bacteria caused death and illness from Listeriosis.

Further it is reported that because Prime Minister Harper did not choose to give Weatherill full judicial inquiry powers, that the report will not be effective and leave Canadians at risk – this according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. 

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Hurricane Ike Victims Toll Rises – FEMA Chertoff Criticized

Hurricane Ike’s death toll in the U.S. climbed past 50 today – search teams pulled out of Galveston having searched the entire island for survivors. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff returned to Texas for a second time to check on recovery efforts amid growing criticism about the FEMA response

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After Powerful Hurricane, Rescuers Scour Ravaged Areas

Emergency officials struggled to carry out rescue efforts on Sunday after Hurricane Ike roared across a wide swath of Texas, deluging the city of Galveston and other coastal areas with a surge of water, leaving extensive damage across metropolitan Houston, and killing at least three people. Ike ravaged much of the Gulf coats including Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. More… [NY Times – source]

Donate now to help Hurricanes Ike and Gustav victims.

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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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The Toronto Star Dazzles Us with Crime Statistics

As promised in my previous blog posting, here are some more facts and commentary on the Star’s misleading series they ran last month – “Why Getting Tough on Crime is Toughest on the Taxpayer”, Toronto Star, Jul.19 , 2008.

Prison Cell

Prison Cell

An open letter to the editor of the Toronto Star:

July 28th, 2008

Dear Editors,

In an eight part series of reports and opinion on crime and the prison system that began July 19th, the Star has done the Canadian public a great disservice. The Star’s error, which approaches gross negligence, in publishing this report, stems from the misleading use of statistics as well as a faulty premise.

First the statistics – mentioned repeatedly in the report is the overall drop in crime rates since 1975. Actually violent crimes have increased from 572 per 100,000 in 1977 to 951 per 100,000 – almost double! Combined rates of violent and property crimes have decreased only slightly from 5,038 per 100,000 to 4,539 – about 10%. Further, what the Star does not report is that crime rates had already increased from 1950 to 1975. The Star assumes, incorrectly, that the 1975 rates were acceptable and represented a safe community. Far from it.

Instead of percentages, let’s look at the real human impact: at the current combined crime rate for Toronto of 3,209 per 100,000, more than 80,000 Torontonians – men, women and children – will be the victims of crime this year! But the Star calls us “overly frightened”. That is criminal. The Star’s statistics do not reveal the sense that there is also an increasing number of unreported crimes, from a public that has given up on the system protecting them.  Similarly, the Star’s focus on prison inmates and persons charged with crimes do not reflect the number of crimes committed by first offenders before they are apprehended by police.

The Star’s major premise is that longer jail terms are no deterrent to crime. The people have news for the Star, incarceration is not meant to deter. It is the underpinning of justice, that is, punishment and penalty. People have the the right to a reasonable expectation of safety through the imprisonment of criminals. Our justice system guarantees this. The punishment of imprisonment removes the offender from society to a place where they can do no harm to the public for the term of the sentence. Longer sentences improve our safety absolutely. Even the limits in personal freedom imposed on criminals through parole are not meant to deter, but to protect the public from re-offenders.

The Star’s statistics do not report why rehabilitation is failing in the federal prison system. Statistics will not reveal the answer to the longstanding question since 20th century prison reform began – Can offenders be rehabilitated in prison? How many of the billions in cost of federal prisons is spent on inneffective rehab programs? This doesn’t mean you reduce incarceration rates – it means you change the method of rehabilitation. Perhaps move it out of the prison system entirely and make it the keystone of our early release parole programs. Forgiveness and reconciliation does not mean we abandon our rights to personal safety for our families.

If the Toronto Star, as it claims, were truly the voice of the public, they would seek information that would benefit victims of crime. A victim of child abuse, for example, is neither a taxpayer, nor a voter. They care not for your statistics.

Andy Coats
Toronto, On

Aug.8th. NOTE – Re. the Star’s recent headline, “Anger Mounts in Girl’s Death”, how would the Star suggest the accused, if found guilty, should be punished? Katelynn Sampson’s life and death is crying out for justice.

Toronto Star Claims Getting Tough on Crime Waste of Taxes

Guelph Federal Detention Centre

Guelph Federal Detention Centre

The beginning of an 8-part special series from the Toronto Star. At issue is a new law (effective May 2008 ) that toughens mandatory minimum sentences. The Star claims this is no deterrent to crime and trots out misleading and incomplete statistics in support. Their opinion is soft on crime and hard on victims.

We have news for the Star – Prison sentences are not meant to be a deterrent to crime. They are a punishment for the criminal. While in prison, the inmate is separated from society and unable to inflict further crimes on the public. Increasing time served through mandatory minimum sentences absolutely protects the public from those inmates and increases public safety for the term of their incarceration.

In future blog postings we’ll look at how the Star manipulated statistics to distort and conceal the real human impact of crime in Canada.

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