More Police and TTC Constables will not Increase Public Safety

More Police and TTC Constables will not Increase Public Safety

3 min. read | By Beau du'Quesnay

In response to recent public safety incidents Toronto Mayor John Tory used his authority to inject millions of tax-payer dollars into the police department, which has already seen major budget increases while medical and education budgets are slashed.

TTC Constables will not Increase Public Safety
TTC Constables will not Increase Public Safety | © Kiri Vadivelu

During a news conference, Tory admitted that he had intended to “address the issue of violence on Toronto streets” before the stabbing incidents and it seems that the recent incidents are just an opportunity to push more aggressive policing.

The issue of violence on Toronto streets, as seen through the eyes of police, politicians, and big media companies, obscures the true nature of what is happening. Rarely does their reportage spotlight the aggressive policing on Toronto streets that target the poor, homeless and marginalized peoples -- those treated as less than human by authorities. Routinely, adults and children are kicked off public transit vehicles for being short of money to pay fares, even on the coldest days. Who will deal with that social violence? Does the police presence on the TTC further exacerbate the targeting of riders who are part of minorities, low-income folks, and riders suffering mental health issues? The TTC takes no action to prevent riders being assaulted by police.

The TTC could have shown more concern for public safety by having cameras placed in designated waiting areas, not mainly around its turnstiles. In fact, TTC Special Constables were urged to wear body cameras, mostly due to claims of racism and discrimination voiced to TTC officials and Special Constables. The proposal faced push back from the transit workers’ union, which opposes the wearing of body cameras despite reports of driver assault and related recommendations from Mayor Tory.

The clear agenda of the TTC is to continue to protect its reputation firstly and their employees secondly. TTC riders are just paying clients subject to TTC bylaws. I have filed complaints to both the TTC and Toronto Police and can vouch for the fact that their misdeeds and misconduct go unpunished through the distortion process of self-investigation. Many public safety incidents are under reported, like the October 2022 TTC assault of an 81-year-old woman whom wished to have her safety concerns addressed by the TTC, which went unaddressed despite many phone calls and emails. And these claims are not uncommon, just under-reported by the major media.

Almost a year ago I witnessed at least three police officers roaming Victoria Park subway station armed with what seemed to be automatic rifles. This occurred at a time of day when school children normally fill the station on their way home. Luckily, there were no incidents reported as schools had been recently closed due to Covid outbreaks.

As provincial and municipal figures move to fund policing, many organizations are attempting to pick up the slack as mental health, senior services and health care services are being stretched to their limits.

Food banks are unable to meet needs, shelters are turning away some 160 people a day, yet there is money for even more police. There is always more funding for police. When communities are asked, they have requested more community centres, public mental health workers and barriers on TTC platforms to prevent falls and patrons being pushed onto subway tracks. Despite this, Toronto's mayor and Ontario Premier Rob Ford enriched the police budget, which will further the cycle of violence, profiling, and criminalization of the poor and unsheltered. It is clear Mayor John Tory takes his orders from business leaders, from the police and TTC, rather than from the working class of Toronto.

It is clear that fare enforcement does not work, and that a rise in violence is a result of several factors. They include the recent CoVid-19 pandemic and its effects on the already impoverished, and the lack of mental health care and accessible housing. These causes are directly tied to violence, which will not be erased by heightening the oppression of marginalized city residents with a demonstrably violent police force. Given the lack of safe housing, warming centres and the eviction of tent encampments, more funding of the very institutions that worsen homelessness, poverty and the effects of disAbility for employment is sure to make matters only worse.

For more information, please contact
Municipal Socialist Alliance
Call: 647-986-1917
[email protected]


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