By Neil Armstrong
Three prominent organizations in the Black and Caribbean communities in Toronto have added their voice to the outcry against the recent spate of shootings in the city.
But at least one group is outraged that minority groups have been locked out of crucial talks on any future security plan for their own communities.
At a press conference last week, Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, said black community leaders had not even been invited to this week’s meeting, which she said was unacceptable.
“We don’t want to be left out when solutions are crafted. We should be, we want to be and we expect to be at the table,” she said. Community reps say a group including the JCA, had asked to be included in a recent meeting with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to formulate a long-term action plan.
“It is our hope that this plan will build on past successes and include full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the 2008 Roots of Youth . Meanwhile reports out of the June 23 meeting are that Premier Dalton McGuinty rejected the mayor’s demand for an immediate funding boost for Toronto policing. with the premier promising however that the funding would not be slashed in the future.
Ford wanted McGuinty to provide an extra $5 million to $10 million to hire additional officers for the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), in the wake of the July 16 shooting.
The premier met with the mayor and police chief Bill Blair for more than an hour in his Queen’s Park office, and promised that his government would provide the current $5 million per year for TAVIS on a newly “permanent” basis. He also pledged to make $7.5 million in Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy funding permanent.
Pauline Christian, president, said the BBPA was prepared to be a contributor in the dialogue and strategic planning with other community organizations, decision makers and stakeholders to address the spate of violence.
Rosemary Sadlier, president, says the OBHS was also willing to join the discussion. In recently times, the communities have seen a spate of youth killings including that of Charles and Yasay as well as Clayton Wright, 42, and Daniel Davis, 27, who were gunned down in different parts of the city.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Black History Society said it is both shocked and alarmed at the recent violence affecting the city. “We particularly offer our thoughts and prayers to the grief stricken families and friends of the victims, 14 year old Shyanne Charles and 23 year old Joshua Yasay and to the residents of this Danzig Avenue, Scarborough enclave, including a member of the OBHS staff/volunteer cadre,” said the OBHS in a press release.