Canadians blame America for their new found violence problems...
TORONTO - When a 15-year-old bystander was gunned down last month while holiday shopping on busy Yonge Street, it set off a wave of concern about the safety of citizens in this traditionally safest of cities.
Toronto's gun-related homicides nearly doubled last year with 52 shooting deaths. A few miles to the south, Buffalo, a substantially smaller city, had 41 gun murders in 2005. And, the homicide rate of Canada's largest city still lags far behind comparable American cities, like Chicago and Houston.
Yet, the crackle of gunfire has horrified residents of Toronto - a city of 2.5 million that prides itself on safe streets and good manners.
With a national election scheduled for Monday, top Canadian politicians are pointing to the United States as the culprit for the city's eruption of gun violence.
"The U.S. is exporting its problem of violence to the streets of Toronto," Toronto Mayor David Miller told reporters days after the Dec. 26 shooting.
Ricardo McRae, a 36-year-old Web-based artist who lives in downtown Toronto, spoke about the cross-border differences last week as he dined at a Front Street restaurant near the CN Tower.
"Canadians are appalled by crime, while for Americans, this is just a part of life and they're a lot more complacent," McRae said. "The foundation of the U.S. is based on fighting, guns and protecting yourself. The Canadian way of life is built on multiculturalism, acceptance and peace.
"There's just a culture of guns and violence in the U.S.," he adds. "Even their national anthem talks about guns and bombs."
That perception of a different tolerance for violence is widespread in Canada.
"Toronto's just not used to this level of violence. We're just shocked," said Vanessa DiMaria, a 31-year-old teacher in Toronto, as she stood in front of the Eaton Centre, a mall in the hub of the downtown shopping district.
"I agree that the States is to blame a little bit because the States allows you to bear arms a lot more."
In the Boxing Day shooting, 10th-grader Jane Creba was killed and six others wounded when they were caught between rival teenage gangs firing into a crowd of shoppers near the Eaton Centre.
The killing occurred in the middle of a national political campaign, and thus sparked politicians to intensify their backlash against America's gun exports.
"Canadians deserve safe streets. Toronto isn't Detroit," Prime Minister Paul Martin was later quoted as saying. "Vancouver isn't South Central Los Angeles. We are not going to allow our cities to fall into mindless violence."
As Canadians head to the ballot box Monday, gun control has become a key campaign platform for each of the major political parties.
The Canadian choices include Martin, leader of the Liberal Party who is seeking re-election, Conservative Stephen Harper and New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton.
The Liberals are proposing a complete ban on private handgun ownership, an idea criticized by the Conservatives, who argue that handguns are already severely restricted in Canada.
"The Conservatives here, just like the ones in the U.S., are viewed as tougher on law and order, while the left-leaning Liberals are viewed as more focused on the root social causes," said Nelson Wiseman, a political science teacher at the University of Toronto. "It's like they're trying to outdo each other with their crime-fighting initiatives when the policies of these parties are not that much different."
Some Canadians, though, say pointing the finger at America is unfair.
"It's a copout, and it's a very cheap shot," said John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Toronto.
"The U.S. is our biggest trading partner, chief ally and best friend, and it irritates Canadians that Martin's blaming America," he said.
Staff Inspector Brian Raybould, head of the Toronto police homicide squad and a 36-year veteran of the Toronto police force, says 90 percent of the city's shooting deaths are gang-related and are mostly "young black men shooting young black men."
But police estimate that half the guns confiscated in criminal investigations are from their southern neighbor. "When we trace a lot of these guns, they are typically from a U.S. manufacturer, sold to a U.S. gun shop and then sold to a person and then the gun pops up in Toronto," Raybould said.
"Guns don't kill people, people kill people. But it's obvious that the American culture is one of firearms, and Canada's not like that."
Raybould said he experienced a major culture shock when he recently visited Quantico, Va. - which is home to a major Marine Corps base and the FBI Training Academy - and saw people walking around with guns in holsters.
"People can't carry a handgun legally here unless you're a police officer, and all handguns are registered here," he said.
The Canadian reluctance to embrace the gun culture draws mixed reaction from U.S. visitors.
Last week, American couple Rick Lemcke and his wife, Lona, were walking along Toronto's Yonge Street after lunching at the Hard Rock Cafe. Rick Lemcke is a member of the National Rifle Association, a pistol permit holder and owns a collection of hunting guns.
"I don't know if Canadians realize it, but gun ownership is a right they're giving up," said Rick Lemcke, 52, who is supervisor of Parma, a town in Monroe County near Rochester.
"If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will own guns."
Despite the vast differences in murder statistics between the two countries, some community groups in Toronto are reaching out to their American neighbors to help clamp down on crime.
Early this month, the Rev. Eugene Rivers, who inspired an effort that reduced Boston's skyrocketing homicides in the 1990s, spent three days in Toronto preaching a faith-based network of social programs - a combination of youth mentoring, church intervention and increased police presence. And the Guardian Angels, a New-York based civilian vigilante group visited Toronto last week with plans to patrol troubled neighborhoods.
Canada's drug policy sucks my balls
Yea but go figure this has nothing at all to do with Canada's thriving narcotics business :rolleyes: Well let's see what happens when you have rival gangs fighting over millions and millions of dollars in potential money from BC BUD.... I wonder what is going to happen. Many of theses gangs controlling the drug trade are violent organizations from over-seas. There are Sri-Lankans, Jamaicans, and Asian gang all fighting over the drug trade. Canada needs to wake the fuck up and see what kind of problems they are causing by there liberal ass policies.