Ontario’s socialist opposition is calling an Ontario cabinet minister “racist” because he said he wore a bulletproof vest while touring one of Toronto’s crime-ridden districts.
As the Toronto Star reports, Community Safety and Corrections Minister Michael Tibollo told the Ontario legislature on Wednesday that he took the precaution because of the wave of gang and gun violence that has hit a city that is also inundated with illegal immigrants.
Tibollo made the remarks when asked if the new Conservative government in the province would be taking steps to stop police officers from “carding,” or making inquiries of people they suspect are involved in crime.
“I want to reassure everyone that the focus of this government is to ensure that safety is paramount in all communities. Personally, I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest and spent 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night,” Tibollo said.
“I’m not a police officer, but what I can tell you is they need skills. They need tools to work with. Our work will be to ensure — working with the communities — that we build trust and that we have those tools provided to them to be able to do their jobs properly.”
The remarks sent New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath over the edge, calling them “blatantly racist” and demanding that “he should apologize and withdraw” the offending comments.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to make an insinuation that going into a highly racialized community is going to necessitate the wearing of a bulletproof vest,” she said.
In subsequent remarks, the minister explained that Toronto police had given the vest to him for his own safety and told him to wear it as he joined the officers as they cruised the notorious neighborhood.
“I sat at a spot where one gentleman the week before got shot 36 times. I stood right there, and it’s a little bit unnerving for someone to have that experience,” Tibollo told reporters.
“I find the situation on the streets extremely dangerous, and there are real people that live in these neighborhoods that are looking for help … to put on a bulletproof vest anywhere in this city to me is alarming.”