This week the role of Toronto Police Services, the policing budget, and the systemic racism that exists in our own City government and institutions was debated at City Council. Like the tens of thousands of you who called my office, sent in emails, and fought for change, I am disappointed in the results of this meeting. Despite the outpouring of outrage and activism throughout Toronto and around the world, Council chose not to take any steps to defund the Toronto Police Services budget. You have the right to feel let down by your government, and I stand with you in your sadness and anger.
While we all have the right to feel disillusioned, I must acknowledge some of the important measures that did pass. Council approved a motion requesting the City Manager report on implementing a Mobile Crisis Assistance Intervention Service, that would deploy unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel, based on the “CAHOOTS” model from Eugene, Oregon. There is also a request to the Provincial government to expand the City of Toronto’s jurisdiction to include auditing the Toronto Police Service. While these are small steps, they are steps in the right direction.
It is important that we do not lose sight of what has happened. A worldwide movement has started to finally take a firm stance against the systemic racism that exists in our society. Both the Police Chief and the majority of Councillors admitted that structural racism exists in our City’s institution, including Toronto Police Services, and that it is something we must fix. We cannot let the hard work you have put in be in vain. We must continue to call on all levels of government to stamp out the racism that exist in our government and society. There is more work to be done, and together we must continue to push forward, and not let this momentum fade.
My office will reach out and share updates as they become available, as well as to share opportunities to organize.
As always, I remain available to continue this discussion.