Community safety must be city’s priority

‘We’re at a pivotal moment in our city and need to elect a mayor who can bring all voices to the table to focus on the real priorities.’

Toronto is at a tipping point.

There’s a saying in health care: when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters. I’ll ask this about Toronto right now: if you don’t feel safe walking down the street in the middle of the day or taking the subway, what else matters? A safe community is a healthy community, and a healthy community is a prosperous community. But it all starts with community safety. We need leadership in Toronto that can set priorities, and get things working. That’s why I will be running for mayor.

The citizens of Toronto need to be safe and feel safe, in every neighbourhood. That’s number one. I don’t want to see anymore lockdowns of elementary schools. Not another story of a woman getting attacked on a streetcar. No more gangs shooting up townhouses where children are sleeping. Enough.

Too many TTC riders are feeling anxious. I own a car but usually take the subway, and recently spoke to a young woman who said it’s her first time back in months but she’s still nervous. A man told me he’d rather spend an hour in heavy traffic driving to work because he’s afraid to ride the subway. In my decades of service as a Toronto police officer, I never experienced this level of fear creep across the city.

Every corner of Toronto is feeling the unease, from Scarborough to Etobicoke, Black Creek to the downtown core. Restoring public trust and bringing a sense of community safety back to our streets must be the number one priority for Toronto’s next mayor.

As a former chief of police for our city, I know that simply adding more police or more money isn’t the solution. These are Band-Aids, and Band-Aids don’t fix problems. Politicians love to throw money at things and call it a job done. But we have real challenges in how programs are delivered on the ground that will take hard work to fix if we want long-term results. As mayor, I will lead that hard work.

My unique experience battling crime and its root causes in every community across Toronto gives me an equally unique understanding of how to tackle it. City council needs new leadership, new ideas — or we’ll continue to get more of the same.

Because everything is connected. If people don’t feel safe, businesses will leave, jobs will leave, and people will lose hope. Toronto — the safe, clean city we love, the largest city in Canada — could continue down a negative path. But we can change the tide. My leadership will make Toronto safer and cleaner.

We need to provide people struggling with the challenges of mental health and homelessness the help and support they need. And to build a strong safety net, we need all three levels of government at the table, and a mayor who can negotiate with them in good faith.

We’re at a pivotal moment in our city and need to elect a mayor who can bring all voices to the table to focus on the real priorities and start fixing the problems. And I think it needs to be said: adding bike lanes to our busiest streets is not our biggest priority. The mayor needs to listen to all the voices, not just the loudest voice. We need to look at the big picture: focus our limited time, energy and resources where it matters the most.

We need leadership focused on restoring Toronto to the city where my Jamaican immigrant parents dreamed their children could prosper. A city where businesses can grow, providing good jobs to hard-working people. A city where people have access to affordable homes in safe communities. A city that takes care of its people and its environment, and makes the investments needed to ensure that our children have it better than we have it right now. And we have to get moving.

I’ve worked with leaders in cities across the globe. I can tell you first hand, the people of Toronto stand out as the most talented, kind and inspirational in the world. With a city hall that functions efficiently and with purpose, nothing can stop us.