The June 2 shootings inside
the Eaton Centre in downtown
Toronto, where two people were
killed and six others injured,
including a 13-year-old boy, provided the city—and the country — with another example of the
devastating toll firearms can
take. But some of the reaction
was difficult to digest. Talk about
history repeating itself.
Politicians put forward predictable rhetoric and journalists
raced to portray the incident as a
gang clash—complete with an
inevitable reference to gangster
rap affiliations — even though
Toronto police were quick to play
down those claims, saying it was
allegedly a targeted shooting, but
not a gang dispute.
The outrage over the Eaton
Centre incident mirrored the
aftermath of the 2005 Yonge
Street shooting that took the life
of Jane Creba and injured six
others. The reaction to that tragedy was itself a repeat of the
response to a spate of gun violence in the city in late 2003.
For most people in Toronto,
this latest shooting was a reminder
that gun crime is still a significant
problem. For some communities,
it was a reminder that the problem only attracts attention when it
spills beyond the borders of certain Toronto neighbourhoods.
The response also revealed that,
for the most part, we are unpre-
Dealing with that
demand, with the
social dynamics that
lead young men to
pick up and use
guns...is the more
complex part. It is
also the part that
mostly goes ignored.
pared to deal effectively with the
issue of gun crime.
Calling it a gang problem , and
the allegations in this case don’t
fit so neatly, dehumanizes and
vilifies those involved. What’s
worse, the media have ingrained
a message that young black men
are bound to end up either as
athletes or gangsters. The issue
takes on an air of inevitability,
and harsher punishments
become the only answer. But
potential solutions are both more
and less complex.
Christian Pearce is a Toronto
defence lawyer and co-author of
Enter the Babylon System:
Unpacking Gun Culture from
Samuel Colt to 50 Cent, which
was a finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award
We want to hear from you!
Email us at: email@example.com
Troubled teen found unlikely support: Rob Ford
Politician was character
witness for armed
robber in Toronto case
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has
long been known as pro-police
and a politician supporting the
“tough on crime” approach to
dealing with law-breakers.
Yet, not so long ago, the
then-city councillor Ford was
the only person willing to come
to court and testify in support of
a teenager who along with an
accomplice, used a sawed-off
shotgun to rob a Toronto taxi
Frequently, those convicted
of gun crimes in Toronto have
little community or family support in court by the time they
are about to be sentenced. Character witnesses are rare and it is
virtually unheard of for an
elected politician to ask a judge
for leniency for someone guilty
of a serious offence.
CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at police headquarters, addressing the media on June
4, 2012, in the aftermath of a fatal shooting at the Eaton Centre shopping mall.
Ford, who had coached B.Y.
(The Lawyers Weekly is identifying him by his initials) in high
school football, knew him as a
“respectful” player and model
teammate—not as the person
convicted of an armed robbery
committed while out on bail.
The appearance as a charac-
ter witness, which has never
been previously reported, took
place in January, 2007, in a sub-
urban Toronto courthouse.