TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford wants between $5 million to $10 million from the province so he can hire more police officers to fight gun violence in Toronto.
Ford said he will be asking Premier Dalton McGuinty for the funds at meeting Monday at the Ontario legislature.
“I can’t go in there asking for 20 or 25 [million dollars], because obviously I know they don’t have it and it’s just not realistic,” he told Toronto talk radio station AM640.
“But I think $5 million would hire a lot of officers and it would make this city a lot safer and we would get these guns and gangs off our streets.”
Toronto police chief Bill Blair, Ontario’s Attorney General John Gerretsen, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Madeleine Meilleur and Minister of Children and Youth Services Eric Hoskins will also be at the meeting.
The summit was called following last Monday’s brazen gun fight at a community barbecue in east Toronto that left two dead and 23 wounded.
Ford will be meeting separately on Tuesday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had already planned to attend an announcement in Oshawa, east of Toronto. But Harper may not be receptive to another one of Ford’s crime-fighting suggestions.
The mayor talked last week of kicking people convicted of gun crimes out of Toronto, but the prime minister’s spokesman is distancing his office from that suggestion.
Andrew MacDougall made it clear Monday that is the mayor’s proposal and Harper looks forward to discussing the federal government’s own anti-crime policies with Ford.
MacDougall said the prime minister is always happy to meet with elected officials to discuss crime and what government could do to tackle it.
So far this year, there have been more than 200 shootings in Toronto.
Ford said the provincial funds he is requesting would go toward hiring more officers for the force’s anti-gang unit.
“Money talks and B.S. walks,” he told the radio host.
McGuinty has warned that there is no quick and easy solution to the city’s gun problem.
McGuinty agrees that more police resources would help, but says there must also be more programs to steer youth away from guns and gangs.
Ford has said he doesn’t want more money spent on “hug-a-thug” programs for youth in at-risk neighbourhoods.
McGuinty has called that short-sighted, and said it shows a lack of understanding of just how complex the problem really is.
The premier also wants the federal government to ban handguns.
Ford has said wants to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ask for a federal law to keep convicted criminals out of Toronto.
“I’m going to find out if there’s some way that if anyone is caught with a gun and they come out of jail, they’re not allowed to live in the city,” he said.
Monday’s meeting comes the same day hundreds of people attended the funeral of 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, one of the two victims from last week’s barbecue shooting.
The second victim, 14-old Shyanne Charles, will be laid to rest Saturday in Toronto.