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Icy hot: Time to end the pain of climate change

 

Living in Toronto, it can be easy to tune out climate change because it still has not affected us nearly as much as it has other parts of the world, like the islands in the Pacific, which are literally sinking because of rising sea levels. Toronto does not have a hurricane season that has proven to be coming back worse and worse each year. However, the lack of an extreme weather event does not mean that the city is not affected. The first September long weekend being the most recent example with its record-breaking high temperatures.  It is important to realize that these severe and unpredictable weather events happening elsewhere will be on the city’s doorstep eventually. Turning a blind eye to the weather events caused around the world by climate change will only serve to harm Toronto.

Torontonians can look forward to much hotter and longer summers as well as more flooding. The city is already known for its at times unbearable humidity that makes 27 degrees Celsius feel like 35. The humidity will only continue to increase according to a climate change study done by SENES Consultants Limited. Every summer will get hotter and wetter. Torontonians are already used to a couple of heat waves during the summer, but eventually this will just become one long heat wave. Climate change is not just about increasing temperatures, hence the reason the term has evolved from global warming into climate change. Toronto will be affected in a number of ways beyond increasingly hotter and longer summers.

In the beginning of August, Toronto had some very dramatic rainfall, which in turn led to really bad flooding that even caused a power outage. This will become a much more regular occurrence according to the same climate change study predicting that Toronto will be getting hotter. Not only does flooding cause massive delays, it also does extensive damage to the city’s infrastructure, which ultimately means that climate change is going to be a very expensive problem falling on the taxpayers. There needs to be viable long-term solutions to the issue that the city is facing. Fewer cars and more bikes on the road would be a great place to start.

It is not only Toronto’s summers that are going to get worse. Even though the city’s winters are getting milder, the climate change study predicts that ice storms like the one in December 2013, which left half the city without power for days, will also increase. Ice storms are extremely damaging and scary, and anyone who experienced the one in 2013 in Toronto knows that well. The weight of climate change on the city and its resources is only going to get heavier. Erratic weather events will make it harder to lead normal lives. A severe ice storm  puts everything at a standstill and the city has to pour enormous resourses into mitigating the situation.

This past summer has provided direct empirical evidence of the damaging effects of climate change. From the record-breaking high temperatures to the flooding, there can be no denial that while Toronto is not suffering as much as other nations under the weight of climate change, the city is affected. Climate change is going to be a very expensive problem for the city to solve. The more  people are aware of how it will directly affect their lives, perhaps the more willing they will be in trying to do their own part to minimize their carbon footprint. In a city of almost three million people, everyone doing just a little bit would translate into a lot. What kind of city do the citizens of Toronto want to leave to future generations, a hot, smoggy, flooded one?

Seth Rogen’s rocket: sound advice from a comedy star

I am on the platform waiting for the train home and after the ritual ding-dong sound that comes before an announcement, I hear “Hello TTC customers! Seth Rogen here, fellow Canadian and public transit user. I always hold the door for my mother because she raised me right, but holding a subway door for her would get me in trouble. I don’t need the hassle or the delay, so leave the doors alone!” This is one of the 13 messages being aired by the TTC to remind riders that there is an etiquette even when taking the bus or train.

After the successful experiment to utilize Seth Rogen’s voice in Vancouver by TransLink to give tips on transit riding etiquette and courtesy, it’s time for Torontonians to be entertained and educated while using the TTC. As Rogen himself announced on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon “Toronto got in on the action as well. They got jealous.”

Since the beginning of August, TTC riders have been entertained by Rogen’s hilarious friendly scolding announcements like, don’t clip your nails, don’t eat your dinner on the train and other gross enough bad habits. Yes, apparently people do it enough to require such reminders. So, let’s see how effective this experiment will be in helping “create decorum” as Rogen puts it.

In a public statement, Toronto Mayor John Tory’s comment on the move is an “example of how we’re moving the TTC forward in new and innovative ways.”

Although some TTC customers would had expressed a preference for someone morel local, such as Drake or Mike Myers, Rogen with his voice and the unique laugh, and more importantly as a fellow Canadian, he is a fitting choice and close enough to my backyard! And he grew up taking the public transport, he cares about better manners displayed in public and he is not getting paid for it.

On the website, the TTC “thanks Seth for his time and generosity in this fun and unique project. We also thank our customers for doing their part in making riding the TTC a more positive experience for everyone.”

Did ambition hurt Smart Track?

A group of colleagues and I set up the Transit Alliance back in 2011 to educate the public on the need for dedicated transit funding and transit development. We believed that transit development was suffering because politicians used it to garner votes, but few bothered delivering on their promises. Our goal at the Alliance was to keep transit development in the public eye, so politicians couldn’t slink away from it. By keeping the level of discussion around transit constant, the public would demand development. We started the discussion on dedicated transit funding, we worked on building support on the use of tolls, and we advocated on the need to build the Relief Subway Line.

As I look back over our work, I realize that our biggest challenges came from politicians who tried to use transit as a stepping stone to power. Politicians, who created controversy over what and where transit lines should be built, were actually delaying the development of transit across Toronto. For example the Eglinton West subway line broke ground in 1994, but was cancelled with the tunnel filled in by Premier Mike Harris in 1995, to the horror of transit development experts around the world.

Political candidates (desperate for power) continually throw out transit plans that will garner the most votes. But transit is a complex issue and planning it properly to meet with population and density growth should be left to educated experts not campaign teams. Unfortunately, in Toronto few politicians listen to the experts.

In 2014 Mayor John Tory came out with a transit plan that was put together by some of the best transit experts in North America. Their focus was to create a transit plan that would help not just Toronto, but the entire region. And knowing the political road blocks likely to happen along the way, my guess is that they created a plan that asked for much more than what is essential, as politicians and public servants would invariably widdle down the plan over time. Mayor Tory’s Smart Track plan lived up to its name and was a smart plan for the entire region. Tory pointed out that the Relief Line was the highest priority subway line, but he also knew that the connections that moved people across the region were key to a strong transit network.

What many don’t realize is that politicians rely on public servants to deliver on their plans. Mayor Tory relied on his former chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat to figure out how to deliver Smart Track efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to do it and seemed to have stalled the process. I’ve grown to admire and respect Mayor Tory. But I know him well enough to know that he would never point this out.

Today I learned that Jennifer Keesmaat, former chief planner, is now blaming Mayor Tory for her failure to deliver Smart Track. Her lack of willingness to take responsibility for her failures is shameful. But to blame Mayor Tory for her lack of success makes me wonder if she might have actually worked to hold it back? As chief planner, she could have added multiple layers of red tape, she could have delayed every aspect of the planning process around Smart Track and undermined the entire project.

I remember a dinner the Transit Alliance hosted with Jennifer Keesmaat as our guest of honour back in 2015 when she was Toronto’s chief planner. Keesmaat spoke about how great the Smart Track plan was and how it would help relieve gridlock in and out of the city. After dinner, I suggested that she should go into politics, that she might gain a lot of support. Her response – “Why do you think I’m here?”

Benefit concert to take place at Danforth Music Hall for victims of shooting

Billy Talent and a collection of other musicians are banding together to perform a concert at the Danforth Music Hall on August 11 in support of the #TorontoStrong fund following the Danforth shooting.

A benefit concert called Toronto Together will feature musicians such as Billy Talent, Pup, City and Colour, and other currently unannounced artists to raise money for the #TorontoStrong fund. The fund was started by the city of Toronto and Toronto Foundation to raise money for those affected by the April 23rd van attack and the July 22nd Danforth shooting.

The concert will also be taking place during Taste of the Danforth festival.

“What has happened in Toronto this summer and what happened on the Danforth a few blocks from our studio, has not only hit close to home, this has hit home,” Billy Talent said in a statement. “All we know is that we can’t just sit here. We don’t know what we want but we want to do something. We want to throw a concert to show the world and more importantly our community that Toronto is a place of love, of community, of kindness and compassion. The violence that has happened here this summer does not represent the majority.”

The Danforth Music Hall is only metres away from where the deadly July 22 shooting took place. 29-year-old gunman Faisal Hussain approached civilians in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood and open-fired, taking the lives of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon.

The Toronto Foundation wrote about how Mayor John Tory and the city of Toronto partnered with their foundation to establish the #TorontoStrong fund, which has gained over $3.5 million in donations for those affected by the van and Danforth attacks. “Serving as the Fund’s pro bono Fund Administrator, former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall is working to disburse the entirety of funds to the victims in a timely fashion. Contributions will continue to be received up to August 31 with final disbursements made by September 30, 2018,” they wrote.

After the funds are distributed to the victims, the volunteer steering committee of the Toronto Foundation will generate further ideas to prevent future violence in the city and “long-term strategies related to city-wide impacts of mass acts of violence.”

Doug Ford receives backlash for plan to cut city council

After Premier Doug Ford announced that he would be introducing a bill to slash Toronto’s city council from 47 members to 25, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Mayor John Tory are criticizing the decision.

On Monday Ford introduced the Better Local Government Act at the provincial legislature. The plan would be to cut city council nearly in half, a move that brought forth criticism from city council, John Tory, and opposing leader Andrea Horwath.

The Premier’s office released further information last Friday on why they’re choosing to introduce such a controversial bill. “At 44 seats, growing to 47 seats, Toronto City Council has become increasingly dysfunctional and inefficient through a combination of entrenched incumbency and established special interests,” they wrote. A streamlined Toronto City Council would empower Toronto’s mayor and help ensure that Toronto taxpayers can count on an efficient and effective municipal government.” They added that the bill could help save Toronto taxpayers over $25.5 million over the next four years but didn’t provide any specifics.

The bill will also extend the nomination period for city council candidates to September 14, 2018, though the deadline for Mayor would remain the same.

Mayor John Tory told reporters that the bill was “absolutely not right” to introduce without consulting with Torontonians. “I’m angry at the process because I think it is disrespectful of the people, most of all, in that I think people, when there’s a major change being made to their civic democracy, deserve to be consulted in one way, shape or form,” he said. “It wasn’t put on the basis that he was planning to do it. He said that he’s talked about it before and I actually sort of dismissed it on the basis of saying, ‘Well, that’s not something that could be done. We’re in the middle of an election campaign,’” he added. “The matter dropped at that stage because I didn’t have the sense he was pursuing it, either.”

Tory also called for a referendum, which was approved by city council. “I will continue to advocate that the province pushes the pause button on this process and let the municipal election already underway proceed,” he added in a Twitter thread on July 30.

Ford received further criticism from opposing leader Andrea Horwath, who released a statement about the bill, saying that he didn’t announce these plans on the campaign trail or consult people. “It’s clear that Mr. Ford wants a smaller number of councillors to have more power, fewer checks and balances, and less accountability. This is obviously a move to make it easier for the premier to control Toronto City Hall. The actions we hear Mr. Ford plans to take not only mean less accountability and transparency at City Hall, but that each Torontonian will have less help and less access to their city councillor,” she said.

Horwath also tweeted about the bill, calling it something Ford “cooked up in a backroom.”

Ford is defending his decision at City Hall and on social media since July 27. “I promised to reduce the size and cost of government, and end the culture of waste and mismanagement. More politicians are not the answer. These changes will dramatically improve the decision making process, and help restore accountability and trust in local governments,” he wrote on Friday.

Ford posted a video of him yesterday addressing the concerns of his bill. “We’re gonna create jobs. We’re gonna create transit. We’re gonna fix the infrastructure and we’re gonna take care of the billion dollars backlogged of housing. People are sleeping on the streets cause too much money’s going to politicians,” he said. He accompanied the 0: 15-second clip with a tweet saying, “We’re going to make government work for the people. We can’t allow political gridlock and dysfunction at City Hall to keep delaying progress on critical issues. By streamlining City Council, we will help Toronto move forward on transit, infrastructure and housing.”

Progress Toronto, an advocacy group supporting democracy, started a petition to stop Ford’s bill called “Stop Ford’s takeover of Toronto politics.” They wrote that Ford is “abusing his power as premier and he is messing with our political system in the middle of an election to try to control Toronto City Hall from Queen’s Park.”

Torontonians threaten to boycott conservative fast-food chain Chick-fil-A

The American conservative fast food chain Chick-fil-A is coming to Canada and the decision to migrate over is already causing an uproar with the LGBTQ2 community and Torontonians.

 The fast-food company has drawn controversy in the past for openly supporting homophobic views and referencing the bible in response to their views on family. In 2012, Chick-fil-A’s then-president Dan Cathy told The Ken Coleman Show I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”  

Though, in 2014, he stated that he regretted getting the company caught up in the politics of same-sex marriages. He didn’t, however, retract his statements and asked people to respect his opinion on the matter.

Chick-fil-A has also reportedly donated millions of dollars to organizations like Exodus International, an organization that was well-known for their gay conversion therapy. They also donated money to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a non-profit organization that openly supports homophobia. For example, their student leader application has a section titled “FCA’s Sexual Purity Statement,” which specifies that “God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness. The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.”

It added that leaders would need to step down from their role if they were caught going against the outlined protocol. “This does not mean that I am a bad person and that the FCA does not love me and want me involved; this is in order to protect the integrity of the ministry and to protect the ones to which we are ministering,” it says. 

Currently, the chicken restaurant is set to make its first Canadian appearance in Toronto by next year. According to a letter from Chick-fil-A’s current president, Tim Tassopoulos, they also plan to expand their operations across the GTA with an additional 15 locations over the next five years. In light of the news, LGBTQ2 communities and Torontonians are speaking out against welcoming a restaurant with such a homophobic past.

People have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns and threats of a boycott. The hashtag #BoycottChickFilA has started on the social media platform and dozens of people are expressing their disinterest in the fast-food chain moving to Toronto.

 The decision to invest in Toronto as our first international Chick-fil-A market isn’t one we take lightly,” Tassopoulos said in his letter. “We’ve spent years researching cities across the world, and the more time we spent here, the more we knew Toronto was the perfect place to roost.”

Police release names of victims from Danforth shooting

Police released the names of the Danforth shooting suspect and victims following Sunday’s deadly attack.

Reese Fallon was identified as the 18-year-old Julianna Kozis was identified as the 10-year-old, both of whom lost their lives after a gunman open fired in Greektown over this past weekend. Fallon had recently graduated from the Malvern Collegiate Institute and was planning to attend McMaster for nursing.

Kozis, who was a Markham native, will be honored by flags flying half-mast. The mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, released a statement on Twitter saying that “The City of Markham will lower flags in honour of her memory and in remembrance of all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy.”

Police have also identified the shooter as being 29-year-old Faisal Hussain. Hussain was said to be suffering from mental health issues, a concern that was addressed in the statement released by his parents.

“We are at a terrible loss for words but we must speak out to express our deepest condolences to the families who are now suffering on account of our son’s horrific actions,” his family said. “We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth.”

“Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life. The interventions of professionals were unsuccessful. Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end,” the statement continued. “Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.”

A GoFundMe page was created on July 23 by Julie Steel, whose husband taught Fallon at Malvern Collegiate. The page was created “to establish a scholarship fund to be distributed each year to a graduate of Malvern Collegiate entering a nursing program as a way to keep Reese’s memory alive.” Steel wrote that the money will be directly released to Fallon’s family who will then be in charge of the logistics regarding the creation of a scholarship. To date, the page has raised $31,680 of its $50,000 goal.

13 injured, 2 dead in Danforth shooting

Over a dozen people are injured and two victims have died following a Toronto shooting that took place on July 22 at approximately 10:00 p.m. in the Greektown neighbourhood.

An unnamed 29-year-old shooter was armed with a handgun and open fired on pedestrians in Toronto’s popular Danforth and Broadview area. The shooter was also pronounced dead in a nearby alleyway after an altercation with police, though reports have yet to confirm whether he died from police gunfire or if he took his own life.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke with reporters following the attack.

“Approximately 15 people have been hit with gunfire,” Saunders told reporters. “There are 15 in total. One is the alleged suspect, the other 14 are victims. I can tell you that one has succumb to their injuries at this point in time. A young girl is in critical state right now and the other 13 are in hospital and being treated.”

Regarding motive, Saunders told reporters that he’s keeping every option open. “I’m looking at absolutely every possible motive for this. When you have this many people that are struck by gunfire, it’s a grave concern. I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I’m not closing any doors or any chapters on this,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to speculate as well. Once we have a better concrete picture of exactly what happened and what the motivation was behind it, we definitely will be having a further conversation on that.”

He added that he didn’t believe the shooting was random. “I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” he said.

Saunders also asked any witnesses to come forward, including those who may have dash cam footage.

Mayor Tory then spoke with reporters, saying that he wanted to reiterate a few points from Saunders. “First of all, people should not reach any conclusions because the police themselves have not drawn any conclusions as to exactly what happened here and why,” he said. He added that he also wanted to reiterate Saunders’ call for help from any witnesses who may have seen something.

“Please don’t draw any conclusions, please wait for the police to do their job,” he continued. “They have plenty of police resources here.”

He added that the families of the victims have the city’s thoughts and prayers.

The Danforth shooting comes just three months after Toronto’s deadly van attack. When reporters questioned what Tory had to say to those who were still recovering from the previous attack, he said, “It’s almost inconceivable these kinds of things can happen. We were too used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and we saw them going on in the world around us we thought they didn’t happen here, or couldn’t, or shouldn’t.”

“I can just say to people that they should try to stay calm while the police do their job because we have to figure out what happened here. We don’t know.” he continued. “[…] Please just comfort your fellow Torontonian. These things, you can never brush them away and I’m angry about them. I’m angry when these kinds of things happen in the city and lots of people would be angry about it.”

Tory added that Toronto has a gun problem and that firearms are too readily available to people who aren’t the police. “We clearly have to do more about to because there are too many people who are carrying around guns and using them in whatever manner they use them in whatever connection,” he said. “That’s part of what we shouldn’t conclude, just that there was a gun used. We have a gun problem and I just hope every step is going to be taken by all those who have responsibility.”

Video footage of the shooter opening fire on civilians was posted to Twitter in a four-second clip.

Premier Doug Ford tweeted out as well saying that his heart went out to the victims and thanking the Toronto police for responding so quickly.

Confronting an eight-legged fear

“An arachnophobe walks into a spider exhibit” sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but stick with me.

I’ve battled arachnophobia ever since I was a kid. I hate spiders. I hate them. I don’t like all their legs or their quick little movements or how they invade my kitchen, forcing me to take my dinner elsewhere.

And it’s not just the hatred of them; my burning distaste is accompanied by an all-consuming fear that I’ve dealt with ever since I was a wee lass. Even at 25-years-old, the tips of my ears turn red, I want to cry, and I can feel them crawling all over me the second I even see a spider. I also can’t move and refuse to do so until someone removes it from my line of vision. True story: I came home one night at 11:30 p.m. and there was a spider dangling in front of my house’s door. So, I needed to literally stand there and watch it string down on its web and then back up again for five whole minutes before it eventually crawled far enough away. I actually contemplated sleeping outside just to avoid this one spider.

Anyway, that’s how bad my arachnophobia is. It’s senseless and consuming and exhausting. But, apparently, that’s not enough to stop me from seeing an entire exhibit of spiders at the Royal Ontario Museum.

I saw posters for it and advertisements in the theatres (I couldn’t even look at the big screen when a spider crawled across it). As soon as I saw the advertisements I knew I wouldn’t be going. Of course not!

But, my boyfriend suggested that I need to go. It would behoove me to confront my fears and I’d also have a killer article at the end of it. After much deliberation, I told him that I would only go if he accompanied me… mainly so I could squeeze his hand until I crushed it. He agreed.

As soon as I entered there were huge faux spiders to greet patrons. I immediately wanted to go home and hoped to hell they didn’t have live spiders (which they did). He and I kept moving in and there was a wide array of little displays to get lost in. You could learn about their webbing, what they eat, how their blood is blue, and how they hadn’t killed anyone in Canada in 2012. I mean, that wasn’t exactly comforting but kudos to the ROM for trying.

My boyfriend and I went to see the live spiders. There was a centipede, which didn’t freak me out as much, and a few tarantulas hanging around in their cages. Despite my initial fear that they would be sharpening knives and waiting for me, the spiders were really calm and weren’t moving around too much. Their lack of movement allowed a bunch of people to take photos of them, which I wanted to do.

He and I moved a bit closer and I handed the camera to my boyfriend to get some photos. But as I gave him my phone he went, “Wait. Why am I doing your job? You can do it. Go ahead.” I’m pretty sure I had a headache with how much side-eye I gave him. But, I approached the cage and gulped down the belief that this tarantula would gain Herculean strength, smash through the glass, and murder me. I snapped a few photos and quickly walked away.

My boyfriend and I walked around for about an hour exploring all the different live displays and learning facts about spiders. For example, I had no idea that they had blue blood. I also didn’t know how intricate their web designs could be. I also learned facts that re-affirmed my fears, like how some spiders can kill fish because they’re huge and gross and strong.

Towards the end, I started getting tingles on my legs that I kept mindlessly brushing away. Suffice to say, I had had enough. My urge to cry and run away was getting stronger the longer he and I stayed in there. But, eventually, he and I made it to the end, which included a wonderful Spider-Man display. I felt overwhelming relief seeing my favourite web-slinger. My boyfriend and I took photos inside a life-size comic book and I marvelled over first edition comics that were on display.

To be honest, as I walked out I didn’t feel any better. The exhibit stated how over 90% of people feel better once they confront their fears, but I think I fall into the minority. I can’t begin to express how happy I am to be out of there. Though I will admit that even if I still fear spiders as much as I used to, it was a heck of an experience.

Ontario minister wears bulletproof vest to Jane & Finch, causing backlash

Michael Tibollo, the Ontario PC Party’s minister of community safety and correctional services, said that he wore a bulletproof vest while visiting Jane and Finch, prompting leaders to call his remarks racist and ask for a comment withdrawal.

Ontario’s PC minister of community safety and correctional services visited the Jane and Finch area on July 7. He tweeted about the experience, saying, “I had the opportunity to travel around 31 Division and learn about the great work of our police force. We are committed to work with our Police to ensure safe neighborhoods free of guns and gang violence. Glad to have Premier Ford join me and hear his concerns as well.”

Premier Doug Ford also tweeted about the experience. “Enjoyed meeting with the great community members in the Driftwood neighbourhood yesterday along with Minister @MichaelTibollo and officers from 31 Division. We are focused on building strong connections between communities and our police services,” he wrote.

During a question period in Queen’s Park on July 18, Tibollo said that he wore a bulletproof vest before entering the Jane and Finch area in response to a question about carding (incidents where people – often minorities – are stopped by police for no reason). The question came from Brampton North NDP MPP Kevin Yarde.

Yarde asked, “Mr. Speaker. I personally have been carded. […] New Democrats have long been advocating for the end of carding as a first step in addressing systemic racism. […] Will you be making changes to allow even more carding to take place on Ontario streets or will you work to stamp out carding?”

Tibollo responded, “I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest and spent 7:00 to 1:00 in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night.”

During a question period later in the day, Tibollo added, “They’re surrounded by drug deals, one of which I saw take place while I was there. It was absolutely horrifying.”

“The police need tools to work with, they are doing an incredible job ensuring that our streets are safe. And it’s our job — I’m not a police officer — but what I can tell you is they need skills, they need tools to work with,” he added. “Our work will be to ensure working with the communities to make sure we build trust and that we have those tools provided to them to be able to do their jobs properly.”

Opposing party leader, Andrea Horwath, tweeted about Tibollo’s comments, calling them racist. “Conservative minister Michael Tibollo’s comment this morning about wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch is inexcusably racist. Anyone who would say something so divisive has no credibility to continue to oversee Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate.”

Tibollo responded about an hour later writing, “Any attempt to spin my comments this morning, is petty partisan politics. I am proud to support our police, and I will continue to work with communities and front line officers to make sure our neighbourhoods are safe.”

However, Horwath isn’t the only opposing Ontario leader who criticized Tibollo’s actions. Yarde also called for a retraction of the comment. In response to reporters, he drew on personal experience, saying that he was pulled over seven years ago in Mississauga for no reason. “Depending on who you’re asking and as an African-Canadian, I thought it was a racist comment,” Yarde said. “It was a surprise to hear comments such as that coming from the minister of community safety and correctional services.”

Alok Mukherjee, the former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board also tweeted out that wearing a bulletproof vest during a ride-along is not standard. “Since when is this a standard procedure? I did not wear a vest in my ridealongs all over the city,” he tweeted.

Deputy Premier Christine Elliot defended Tibollo, saying that she didn’t think Tibollo intended on an offensive comment. “I think what he is speaking about is needing to go to communities to understand what’s happening, to understand how people have been hit by violence, gun violence in their neighbourhood,” she told reporters.