Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Jane Jacobs’ Urban Vision Coming to a City Near You

Had urbanist Jane Jacobs lived to be 100, she would have celebrated her birthday earlier this week. Jacobs, a journalist by training, was a champion of people and cities and helped shape the urban realm during the latter part of the last century.  Her influence on place-making is even more poignant today, as cities across the continent begin retrofitting as part of a shift towards the low carbon economy.


In  “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, Jacobs made the case that the best places to live are the ones scaled to people.  At the time of its publication in 1958, North America was in the midst of a highway building boom which would not taper off until her ideas eventually became mainstream in the 1980s.  Today, we take it for granted that great cities are the realm of people, not cars (see: “How Activist Jane Jacobs Changed the Way the World Thinks About Cities,” Annalies Winny, Vice.com, March 10, 2016).

And yet, although we understand the lessons Jacobs taught, we have largely continued to comprehensively ignore them in the design of our cities and suburbs.  Too often, municipal decision makers continue to emphasize a car-centric vision for urban design, rather than one where our communities are built at the scale of walking and cycling. New cookie-cutter subdivisions, often located on the fringes of existing built-up areas, are serviced by needlessly wide streets that make getting around without a car difficult. Big box “power centres” are built with enough parking to accommodate what U.S. urbanist Marc Lefkowitz refers to as the “100 year shopping event” (see: “Who will (and won’t) pay for water-polluting lots,” Marc Lefkowitz, GreenCityBlueLake, April 28, 2016).

For Jane Jacobs, and for many others who have flocked back into our inner cities, the suburban built form proved not only to be spiritually desolate, but also economically unsustainable.   The social and economic costs of commuting great distances to work have required private and public investments in infrastructure that have left many people and cities teetering on the edge of insolvency.  It may be true that land values are generally lower in suburban areas, making those areas more attractive to home buyers, but the additional costs associated with suburban living often tilt the balance in favour of inner-city dwelling, especially in circumstances where a family chooses not to own a car.

As we shift towards a low carbon economy, we are already seeing our governments and businesses beginning to back the transportation options we’ll need to use to get around.  Light and heavy rail systems are being built or proposed in cities like Brampton, Hamilton, London and Kitchener-Waterloo. Separated busways already exist in Mississauga and Ottawa.  Transit not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it also facilitates the type of urban built-form that makes our cities vibrant, people-centred places.

Not everyone will choose to live in our retrofitted cities.  That’s fair, but it might prove to be more expensive in the future, once pollution and congestion pricing programs become the norm. For too long, we’ve subsidized suburban living through artificially low energy prices and other fiscal breaks for car owners, including building and maintaining our expansive road and highway systems, and providing low cost storage options for vehicles through free parking.  Our subsidies have led to inefficient urban sprawl, a development form which typically does not offer a positive return on investment.


Jane Jacobs has shown us what makes cities great.  In our shift towards a low carbon economy, we’ve already started knocking down some of the barriers we’ve erected to prevent creating people-centred urban areas.  In the future, our cities will be more compact, less focused on cars, and more economically sustainable.  That’s all good news – but the great news is that as a spin-off, we’re going to create more vibrant communities for people.

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own and should not be considered consistent with the policies and/or positions of the Green Parties of Canada and Ontario)

Originally published in the Sudbury Star as, "Jane Jacobs' urban vision coming to a city near you," in print and, "Sudbury Column: Jane Jacobs' urban vision coming," online, May 7, 2016.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Troubling Facebook Exchange with a Greater Sudbury Councillor and a Few Others

Sorry for the quality of this post.  I've copied the following from a recent exchange that I was involved in on the Valley East Facebook group - an exchange which has since been deleted by the group administrator, Ward 5 municipal Councillor Robert T. Kirwan.  I've taken exception to Councillor Kirwan's pro-carding positions in the past, and did so again today.  I challenged Kirwan's beliefs that cardings aren't "random" (the whole brouhaha around carding - and the province's fix for it - has to do with the random element of the police activity, which is bad enough.  But it would be worse to believe that certain people are being targeted by the police for random checks simply because of their appearance, or where they live or maybe their transportation mode makes them a "suspicious character" who should be stopped and questioned).
The conversation descended into mud-slinging, with my Councillor trying to score points against me by referring to my "political soapbox" and bringing my affiliation with the Green Party up.  He then suggested that I was engaging in "abnormal" behaviour when I revealed that I sometimes walk outside at night, maybe on my way home from work, or to visit a coffee shop.  Apparently, in his judgement, pedestrians should consider themselves targets for police activity if they're out walking at night.  But if you're driving around in a car, that's ok because....well, I've no idea why that's ok.  
Anyway, I wanted to document this because I'm troubled by this exchange for a number of reasons.  This man is an elected official in my community - in fact, he's my ward councillor at the moment.  His flippant disregard and disrespect for Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, along with his support of an activity which has been described by the Ontario Ombudsman as being "illegal", and which the provincial government is taking action to stop - that's problematic, but I'm not sure if it really is based on his misunderstanding of the "random" nature of carding.  Perhaps he's been getting bad advice from someone whom he knows who is an Officer with the Peel Police, who chimed in on this thread to state clearly that carding isn't random - which to me is unbelievable, because it suggests that at least in his mind, the Police are targeting individuals to stop and "check" - people who might just be walking home from the coffee shop at 3 in the morning - an example of an activity an individual might be engaged in which would elicit a carding response from the Peel police officer.  
I'm troubled by the fact that my Ward Councillor believes that I engage in abnormal behaviour.  I'm troubled too by the number of times that he and others here tried to pretend to know how I felt about a particular issue based on...well, nothing really.  And I'm troubled by my Ward Councillor bringing the Greater Sudbury Police Service into this discussion, which seemed to me like an attempt to suggest that our police force engages in random police checks - something that I've not heard that they do, by the way - in an attempt to imply that I am somehow anti-police.  
Ya, I'm just troubled tonight.  If you're one of my regular readers, you may just wish to move on.  I just wanted to document this exchange somewhere publicly, because it's been removed now from the Valley East Facebook Group, and is no longer available for public consumption.  I want people to see what I wrote - in defence of my Police Service and ethical policing everywhere.  I want people to realize that I support our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  And I want people to know that I don't think it's abnormal to be walking around the City at 3 in the morning because sometimes that's just what you've got to do - or what you want to do - especially now since the Council which Robert T. Kirwan is a member of - authorized 24 hour shopping in our City.
7 hrs


SHOOTINGS ARE UP AND THERE ARE MORE GUNS ON THE STREETS OF TORONTO
Before the anti-carding legislation was presented, people were afraid to carry guns with them on the streets. Now, if a police officer approaches a suspicious character, he can just tell the police officer to take off. Many police officers are seeing the impact of this legislation and the statistics are quite revealing.
Shooting occurrences are up 61% over this time last year — 118 compared to 73 in April of 2015.
Shooting victims are up 31% — 146 compared to 111.
Homicide is double last year’s count at this time with 26 — 16 of those from the barrel of a gun.
While many who support the anti-carding legislation will argue that that may be other factors that have produced this spike in violence, front line officers will tell you that hardened criminals in gangs are no longer afraid to carry a gun with them since they can refuse to allow a police officer to talk to them. In the past, these same people would store their guns back at their homes or headquarters. Now they carry them.
This summer will be a true test so we will see if the numbers continue to rise.


http://www.torontosun.com/2016/02/03/shootings-up-since-carding-suspended

Steve May Goodbye and good riddance to the odious practice of "carding" - a practice referred to as "wrong and illegal" by former Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin.
Keep in mind that police approached a "suspicious character" earlier this week - and made national headlines for doing so. The "suspicious character" approached by police in this latest publicized incident of police carding was a City Councillor in Hamilton, Ontario, who was suspiciously waiting for the bus after visiting a constituent at their home to talk about a municipal issue. Hamilton Councillor Green referred to the police as being "confrontational" - right up until he told them what it was he did for a living.
Another thing to remember: recent changes to carding procedures at the provincial level have not required a change to any laws. It has always been the right of individuals to refuse to talk to police in situations of random checks. What's going to change (and has yet to change in many places) is that the police will be required to remind individuals of their Charter Rights before attempting to engage in these checks. No one has changed the Charter. People always had the right to refuse to engage with the police in these types of settings.
The police will still be able to do their jobs of investigating crimes and criminal activities. What they won't be able to do is randomly harass individuals who are doing nothing wrong, simply because of the colour of that person's skin, the location that they're in, or the time of day that they may be about their business. It's an unacceptable practice - one which violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms - and one which isn't necessary for the police to engage in in order to keep our communities safe.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/.../matthew-green-carded_n...

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Robert T. Kirwan The people who say that this legislation will not have any affect are not the ones who must deal with the gangs and criminals on the street. The statistics don't lie. We will see how this plays out, but we can definitely expect more gun play on the streets. It is already happening.
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Scott Hamilton I agree that it is already happening... while they were able to stop and ID people. That to me suggests they weren't afraid and the only people being victimized had nothing to hide
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Steve May More gun play on the streets, eh? Seems a strange comment to make about carding. Are you privy to statistical information that shows how often carding incidents have led to the direct seizure of illegal guns? I seem to recall former Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin and his team looked into whether police checks were a good tool for fighting crime, and he determined that they weren't. If police organizations and police associations believed that carding was an activity that led to a direct reduction in illegal guns on our streets, why haven't they been making that data available? Presumably they have it - they know how often they've stopped someone randomly in a police check. They know how often they've seized an illegal weapon from those incidents. And yet, this information doesn't appear to be publicly available.
I've always thought the best decisions were made on the basis of evidence, not conjecture. Presuming that the City of Toronto will experience more gun play as a result of changes coming to keep police practices more in line with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms seems like an incredible stretch - one which isn't based on any evidence. If illegal guns on our streets are a problem, there are many things that our legislators can do to help police fight criminal activity without violating the rights of individuals in the process.

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Jamie Lamothe Let's start carding at Timmy's in the Valley and see how that goes over. It's one thing to comment about it. It's another to have to live with discrimination, racism and unconstitutional profiling.
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Valerie Kirwan Could it be that now that gangs/criminals or those intending to commit crimes now feel freer to carry those weapons because they know carding won't be an issue when they're out and about in the wee hours of the night? Before carding was taken away, I'm sure that was enough of a deterrent for some people thinking of committing a crime.

Seeing as the criminals and would-be criminals are now getting more and more rights, why even have police on the streets smile emoticon

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Robert T. Kirwan I think we have to remember that "carding" is not a term that the police used. You can all say what you want but the random stopping of people on the street for no reason at all was not happening. It is exactly what the 200 people who have been blocked from this site have been saying - that they didn't do anything wrong and that I have unfairly banned them from the group. It is my fault for banning them because they didn't do anything wrong.

Police officers do not go around discriminating against people based on their race. They do street checks on people who are committing crimes. The statistics in Toronto are revealing, so we will see how it plays out in the coming year.

Just keep in mind that police do not have enough time to go around harassing ordinary citizens.

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Marty Kirwan Steve, carding was never used to randomly stop people or violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is a whole farce to begin with because of the way lawyers have abused it to re-victimize victims and let criminals walk free.
My Chief and Police association support carding as it has been proven to solve homicides in our region, amongst other major crimes. It also assists police in various investigations such as locating missing people, which I have used on several occasions.
It is a very useful investigative tool but the Liberals caved because of a few anti-carding groups, such as the BLM.
There is also the proactive deterrent of criminals being fearful of being caught with a firearm, which minimizes the amount of time they are armed, keeping you safer than you are without carding.
Andre Marin was never a supporter of police, he is one of the most biased people who could have been placed into the Ombudsman position, so don't rely on him to support your positions! Otherwise he would have cited the homicides solved because of street checks.

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Steve May That's interesting, Marty. I'd be curious to find out more about how many of the police checks your police force conducted led directly to arrests and solving homicides. To my knowledge, the police aren't collecting these statistics, so all we're left with is hearsay like you've provided here. I could be wrong. Maybe your police force does have these stats available. If so, I'd appreciate you pointing me in the direction of where they are available.
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Steve May As for the non-random element, it sickens me to think that any police force in this day and age is engaging in racial profiling - because if you're stopping people based on their appearance, and the majority of police checks involve people of colour, guess what? You're racially profiling people. Again, please let me know which police force you are a part of, because I think it's time for someone to write a letter to let them know that their rank and file is engaged in this odious and illegal practice.
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Steve May I'm completely in favour of the police using every legal mechanism at their disposal to solve crimes and prevent criminal activity. But carding isn't one of those tools, as it clearly crosses the line into an activity that violates an individuals Charter Rights.
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Robert T. Kirwan I think it is the absence of the "deterrent" factor that may be responsible for the spike in gun-related incidents. When criminals were fearful of being checked by the police if they were found in suspicious activities, they would leave their weapons at their hideouts. The last thing they wanted was to be caught with a weapon. Now that they feel they are safe from street checks, they know they are not likely going to get caught with a firearm and in order to be prepared if they run into another gang, they come armed. The stats are showing that already and the police officers are noticing a change in the number of incidents involving guns.
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Steve May Robert, this is just nonsense. If a police officer observes someone whom he believes is in the process of committing a crime, he has the ability (and the moral authority) to stop and question that person about their actions. That isn't carding. Example, a police officer observes someone with a hammer looking into the windows of a house. They can (and should) investigate. It's stopping people who are doing nothing more than waiting for the bus - that's where the problem is. And we here in Ontario have heard countless stories from people who have been stopped and questioned by the police in circumstances very similar to Hamilton Councillor Green's from earlier this week. Carding is odious, illegal and our government has said it has to stop, thank goodness.
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Steve May

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Robert T. Kirwan One other thing about the reduction in street checks or "carding" is that it makes it a lot safer for police officers. There is less chance that an officer is going to end up in a confrontation with a criminal. But it puts the general public at greater risk of being victimized. Street checks allowed police officers to associate people to one another and to locations, which assists in generating leads to solve crimes.

Please understand that this isn't just me saying this. Most people are aware that my son is a police officer with over 10 years experience. He sees what is happening first hand. As I stated, it makes it safer for police, but puts the general public at greater risk.

And this isn't just a theory. Once again, the statistics demonstrate this in Toronto. Let's see how things play out this summer.

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Steve May Show me the statistics, Robert - please show me where the Toronto Police have ever identified the number of arrests they've made that have been as a direct result of stopping people on the street through the practice of carding. If you can't produce them, please stop referring to them as if they exist.
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Steve May Note this story dating back to 2015 about the lack of data which the Police have used to justify the practice of carding. The reference here to 15% of those carded being arrested over a 10-year period should have been further clarified by the Star - as these individuals would not all have been arrested at the time that they were carded, but rather many were arrested at a point after they were carded. Either way, 85% of people carded were never arrested - not a great track record for the practice - and certainly not a price we as a civil society should be paying for a practice which tends to violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the highest law in our land.http://www.thestar.com/.../group-questions-why-toronto...
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Robert T. Kirwan You go ahead and believe what you want to believe, Steve May My job is to support the police to make it safer for law abiding people. You go ahead and support whatever it is that you want to support.
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Steve May As I've said numerous times now, Robert, I support our police and I support Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the highest law in our land.
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Steve May Robert, you don't seem to understand what carding (or whatever you prefer to call the practice) is all about. The police have long maintained that what they've been doing is completely random, and not directed towards people who look a certain way. They've had to do maintain that this practice is random, because they know full well that stopping people while being black is illegal (it's called "racial profiling") and that the proceeds from any such directed stop would not be admissible in a court of law because they would have clearly violated the Charter Rights of an individual. The police say what they're doing is random - why don't you want to believe them?

If you believe Ontario police forces have been practicing the overtly racist activity of "racial profiling" and don't believe that these "police checks" are actually random, then maybe you don't really understand what the issue is - and why so many people who frequent this site are offended by the fact that we appear to have an elected official in our midst who seems to endorse an activity that has been acknowledged to be illegal. Could it be that you really don't believe these police checks are actually random, despite what the police claim? I've seen you mention that the checks are "random" a number of times now - and I'm growing increasingly troubled by your continued characterization of police checks as being non-random - which would suggest to me that you believe that the police are actually targeting the types of people - these "suspicious characters" as you refer to them - in their stops.

Do you really think that Councillor Green in Hamilton was involved in a crime when he was carded by the police earlier this week, while waiting for a bus while black? These sorts of police checks are common and they do not usually ever involve people who are committing crimes. Certainly there are no statistics which have ever linked carding to arrests.
Look at the regulation that Ontario is rolling out to stop carding random people who are not the subject of any police investigation. The reason Ontario is doing this is because stopping random people and asking them (intimidating them) with questions is potentially a violation of their Charter rights. Note that the regulation is directed only at random police stops (carding) and does not in any way prevent the police from questioning somebody involved in or a suspect in a crime.

http://www.cbc.ca/.../toronto/yasir-naqvi-carding-1.3501913

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Marty Kirwan Steve, first off, don't believe the CBC, they are left wing and trying to sell advertising.
The police never exited their vehicle and we're actually questioned more by this councillor than vice versa, but he played up the black card and the CBC did as well. It actually has the Hamilton Police pissed off at the disgraceful reporting.
I'm a police officer in Peel. Police have not been saying they randomly stop people! Carding is used when police investigate suspicious circumstances or traffic stops. It's the situation the dictates the police interaction.
I'm sorry but you are factually incorrect and buying into the BLM rhetoric.

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Steve May Marty, when your best defence is "don't believe the CBC because they are left-wing" you've already lost. Canadians across the nation trust the CBC as our national news media. But if you don't like the CBC, try the Huffington Post, or the Hamilton Spectator - all of whom reported the story. Or maybe read Councillor Green's complaint to the police. It is true that right now we have only one individual's word on this matter, and perhaps we should take this with a grain of salt. It could very well be that Councillor Green has made the whole thing up. It wouldn't be the first time that a politician invented a story. So yes, I guess we need to keep that in mind - he could be lying.
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Robert T. Kirwan Steve May, let's face it. You are never going to change your opinion because you think you are always right. So go ahead and believe what you want to believe. I put my support behind the Greater Sudbury Police Services and will do whatever I can to help them keep our streets safe.
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Steve May Marty, I'm hearing what you're saying about the non-random element of police checks, but frankly based on the wealth of information in the public realm - as well as the government's actions to now put an end to the practice of random carding, I think it's pretty clear that most here in Ontario understand the practice of "carding" to be the "random" stopping of people who aren't engaged in any act of criminal activity. Just google "carding" for goodness sake and take a look at the first 5 or so entries - all refer to the "random" element of the practice in one way or another. It's the random part that has so many up in arms about th practice.
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Steve May Robert T. Kirwan To my knowledge, the Greater Sudbury Police Service is not one which has been tarnished by the practice of carding. Unless you know more about their practices than I do, I don't seem to recall any accusation about their activities. You started this thread with a link to a Sun Media piece about the Toronto police. A member of this group who commented appears to belong to the Peel Police. And now you're bringing up the Greater Sudbury Police Service, saying you support them - almost as if you're suggesting that they've been engaged in the activity of carding, which we know to be a Charter violation. I'm not sure why you're dragging our police service into this conversation. I support our police. I'm glad that they haven't been engaged in the practice of random police checks - and I'm glad that as of January 1st, they won't be allowed to any more, because the province is making that activity illegal.
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Steve May As for my opinion, I'm a supporter of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so I guess you're right: I'm not going to change my opinion. Thank goodness our government is acting to change a police practice which violates our Charter.
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Robert T. Kirwan Give me a break, Steve May Are you the only one who doesn't see that you are constantly trying to undermine everything I say? The GSPS is going to be under the same legislation as the rest of the province. We will see how the statistics bear out in the coming year.
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Robert T. Kirwan Steve May The next time someone breaks into your vehicle, remember that they are just exercising their rights and freedoms before you call the police.
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Steve May I'm not trying to undermine everything you say, Robert. That's kind of a paranoid attitude, isn't it? Especially given that you know full well I've written in support of a number of things that you've posted to this site, including some of your very own ideas. Don't resort to generalizations which try to tar individuals through false accusations. On this particular matter, yes, I don't agree with you - and I frankly have idea why you've brought the Greater Sudbury Police Services up on this thread, unless to insinuate that they too engage in carding.
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Steve May As for your incredibly faulty understanding of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which does not protect individuals breaking the law and damaging private property from the full force of the law), I'm simply astounded that you believe this. Goodness Robert, you might want to better understand what the Charter is (and what the law is) before posting interpretations like this. People look up to you on this site - people respect your position on Council. Do you want people to think that you believe individuals committing a crime and damaging property are protected by our Charter?
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Marty Kirwan Steve, you want an example of a homicide solved by Peel Police because the killer was documented in the area where the body was found, it's the Cecilia Zhang homicide.
It works, it's not random and it's unintelligent to say it's racial profiling. I don't care what skin colour you are, but if you are skulking around a residential neighbourhood, car lot or commercial property at night, you should be and will be investigated so that it deters a crime and helps solve one should it be committed.

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Steve May Thank you. Can you provide evidence that carding was the direct link which led to the arrest of her killer? I'll await your citation.
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Robert T. Kirwan You know what, Steve May, I am going to advise Marty not to waste his time. All you are going to do is twist and turn whatever he provides you anyway. That is what you do best.
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Steve May "Skulking around a residential neighbourhood"? Are you serious? I'm often out and about at night - I don't know if I'm skulking in anyone's opinion, but I like to hang out and have a nice time. Is that the criteria that police use to determine who they are going to stop and question about criminal activity? Hanging out in front of a house? Of course, that's actually similar to Richard Whyte's experience, as documented in this piece by Desmond Cole - the only difference is that Whyte was hanging out in front of his mother's house with his mother when he says Peel Police drove the wrong way down a one-way street to question him about his activities. I guess that's "skulking" http://www.thestar.com/.../everyday-racism-shouldnt...
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Robert T. Kirwan You are too much, Steve May Get off your political soap box. You are not at a Green Party convention now. You should choose who you are going to believe.
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Steve May For goodness sake, Robert - where have I once mentioned the Green Party or brought politics into this discussion. You're really reaching here. This has nothing to do with politics or the Green Party. This is about the practice of carding, crime, and our Charter.
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Jamie Lamothe I'd love to transpose this conversation into a social media network with people who have lived experience to see how these perspectives or arguments wash. The people living in neighbourhoods who have not had the same privileged opportunities for success in life might not be so agreeable to these opinions of police practice. I wonder if a person's perspective might depend on how much silver they had on their spoon growing up.
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Robert T. Kirwan I think you should start checking the facts that are determining what you believe, Steve May When you get the facts you will see that the political forces and the media that loves to attack police officers are driving this myth that police are abusing their powers. As I said before, I have a list of 200 people who I had to block from this site because of the behaviour was detrimental to the majority of members on this site and the vast majority of them will tell you that I have violated their rights, I have unfairly picked on them, and they did nothing wrong. So if you believe them, then I am guilty of randomly blocking people. What is done is done. The legislation is going to take hold and now we will see the results. And then we can judge the results.
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Steve May What a cynical attitude - one I certainly don't share. I don't believe for a minute that our media "loves to attack police officers". Rather, I believe the media is trying to look out for the interests of the little guy, and the law. The practice of carding is one which crosses the line - thank goodness our media has (finally) been all over this issue lately, as they've been instrumental in provoking our government to action. If you really believe what's going on to be a myth, I think you need to seriously look further into this matter a little more closely. Are you seriously suggesting that hundreds, maybe thousands of people, are wrong when they say they've been stopped and questioned by the police for no reason?
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Steve May Why are you bringing up your ability to block people on this site, Robert? Others might see that as a sign of trying to intimidate those here who are engaging you in conversation and who hold a different view on the matter. I hope that's not why you're bringing this up now.
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Steve May As for checking my facts, I have. I'm still waiting for you to provide me with those statistics about how carding leads to arrests that you referred to. I guess I'll have to wait a while longer.
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Robert T. Kirwan You will have to wait a long time, Steve May You won't believe the facts anyway so why should anyone waste their time.
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Steve May Robert T. Kirwan - what a cop out (no pun intended). You won't produce them because you know they don't exist. Knowing that they don't exist, it's incumbent upon you to stop writing about them as if they did. That's not cool, Robert.
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Marty Kirwan If you have nothing to hide or are not doing something suspicious, you will have no issue having a conversation with a police officer.
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Steve May If you have nothing to hide or are not suspicious, why would you be concerned about police entering your house any time they like, and searching it? It's a matter of degree, no? But it's the same matter.
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Steve May

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Jamie Lamothe ...And that conversation could be very short and silent. And, that would be within your rights... Given that you have done nothing wrong and are not legitimately suspected of having done anything against the law....
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Steve May "Have a nice day, Officer"
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Steve May

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Jamie Lamothe Can we loop Edward Snowden into this chat? Or was he already banned? I'd love to hear from a master spy as to just how much people have allowed their rights to privacy and to go about their way freely get eroded.
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Robert T. Kirwan I will support the police in anything they suggest will help them keep our streets safer for law-abiding citizens. People who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. The GSPS always monitor this site, so I do commend them on what they are doing and I am committed to assisting them in whatever it is that they need to do their jobs.
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Steve May Please, I hope you're not being serious! Some police organizations in North America have long argued for the power to engage in warrantless searches. Do you support that? Or tapping people's phones? Both practices would surely help police fight criminal activities. But I guess those of us with nothing to hide have nothing to fear from police who want to turn our homes upside down or listen in our phone calls to our children.
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Jamie Lamothe Im guessing, too, that our local officers won't start posting official comments while displaying profile photos of themselves holding fully automatic assault rifles. That would just be a weird mixed message about freedom and intimidation, and safety of citizens to express themselves freely.
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Robert T. Kirwan I am not wasting my time with this any more. I have other things to do. Steve May and Jamie Lamothe you can continue to defend your positions. I know what I will be doing to help protect the residents of this city and the GSPS know they can count on me to support them in maintaining the peace.
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Steve May No need to defend "our" positions. Take it up with the Government of Ontario, who is ending this odious practice of carding. It's your position, Robert, which appears to be based on a misunderstanding of facts and evidence at best.
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Michele Cavanagh oh look the bat signal
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Robert T. Kirwan The article in the Toronto Sun points out the statistics that are signs of an increase in the number of people carrying guns in the gangs of Toronto. The fact is that the criminals are not fearful of being stopped and checked if they are acting in a suspicious manner. Because of that they are not afraid of carrying guns. The legislation takes effect January 1, 2016. It doesn't matter how you feel about this legislation, or if you believe that police were racial profiling or violating individual rights. The police will follow the legislation and on the one hand the police officers should find it much safer to patrol the streets. They need only respond to incidents rather than trying to be as proactive as they have in the past. We will see if the general population is better off or not. Time will tell.
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Steve May The Toronto Sun article provides no statistics that carding directly leads to taking guns off the street - or any reduction in criminal activity for that matter. The author of the piece provides a lot of supposition where he believes that there is a link between the two - but no actual statistics which show the linkage. Supposition isn't evidence. We might be able to look at trends over a longer period of time and draw some useful conclusions, but even the Toronto Sun piece makes reference to the Toronto police officer citing other reasons (access to guns) for what appears to be an increase in criminal activity.
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Jamie Lamothe The article doesn't refer to other possible causes of increased violence. Last I checked, we still hasn't licked poverty, for example. Maybe officers should have been giving out $5 to everyone they carded. Some people might be rich by now.
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Marty Kirwan The pendulum is swinging hard to the left for now but eventually will swing back to the right.
In the process, the crime rate will rises and the solvency rate will diminish before people realize the mistake that was made by preventing proactive policing. Just hope that you don't become a victim in the process!
Speaking from first hand experience, carding is not random, it is not racially motivated, it's situational and is effective in deterring crimes and solving them.
Steve, if you were walking late at night I would stop and talk to you. Once you said you lived nearby and were just out for a walk I'd say enjoy your walk and I'd be on my way without carding you. If you were in a neighbourhood without a reasonable excuse and knowledge of the area (visiting a friend/family) and your story didn't make sense, yes I'd card you incase there was a break in around that area. It would provide a potential lead for the police, if needed.
What's funny is that these same left wing people will be complaining that the police are just parked all day long waiting for calls, even though that's what they wanted!

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Steve May I'm sorry, Marty - the police shouldn't be stopping anybody for just walking on the sidewalk. That's just indefensible. People can walk. The police shouldn't try to play the arbiter of who has a good reason to be out for a walk.
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Robert T. Kirwan You are wrong, Steve. You are dead wrong. And I can assure you that the majority of people living in this city appreciate the fact that police would stop and see why you are out walking around in the neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning.
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Steve May
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Robert T. Kirwan As I said. The article indicates that there has been a dramatic rise in gun activity in Toronto. There seems to be less fear among gang members about being checked and caught with weapons. We had an actual police officer weigh in here with his own experience and his own perspective on what actually happens. There is nothing to be gained by trying to argue the points being expressed. You can take the position that there are other reasons for the spike in crimes involving guns, and that is fine. Time will tell who is right. The police will enforce the law in accordance with the Police Act and it will be the people who decide if they are safe or not. Don't expect anyone to change their minds here, especially the only person on this post who is actually a police officer. Thank you, Marty, for providing us with some excellent insight into what you are faced with on a day to day basis. For the rest of us who depend on what you do, we will never fully understand or appreciate what you are going through.
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Steve May Less fear among criminals is conjecture. There are likely a lot of reasons for the gun violence that we're seeing, just about all of which have nothing to do with carding. Rather than focus on carding, why not focus instead on the actual issue - getting the guns off of our streets? Even the officer quoted in the Sun story admitted carding wasn't the only reason for the gun violence.
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Robert T. Kirwan Once again, Steve May you only hear what you want to hear. We have an actual officer telling you of the deterrent factor. You display your own bias with your continual refusal to even consider his statement which is backed up by experience. You have no knowledge of what you speak of, but he lives it.
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Steve May

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Steve May Marty, If I gave you reason to suspect my involvement in a criminal activity, that might be one thing. But otherwise, why try to take down information from someone for just being a pedestrian. Would you do the same to someone driving a car down the street? I don't think so.
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Robert T. Kirwan There is nothing wrong with a police officer stopping and asking you why you are out walking. That is normal activity and is definitely not something that any law-abiding citizen should be fearful of. If you happen to be in a place where you are raising suspicion, then I would hope that some record is taken in case something did happen. You may think you have your rights, but every other person on that street also has a right to have their rights protected.
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Marty Kirwan Steve, police don't stop every person walking, but you can agree that walking late at night is abnormal behaviour, so you can see why you may get stopped. If you can't understand that then I'm not sure I can reason with you.
Speaking with people in the community is what police do. If you want police to respond from the station then that can be done, just like Firefighters.
I would say that I card less than 1% of the people I speak with. The only ones who have issue with it are those who know they don't have a justifiable reason for being where they are, or left wing people who preach the Charter!
It's situational that is out of the norm, aka, suspicious that gets carded.

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Steve May No, Marty, I can't agree that walking late at night is abnormal behaviour, because if I agreed with that statement, I would be saying that I engage in abnormal behaviour - and I really don't think that I do. Walking along the sidewalk is normal behaviour. I see people do it all the time at night - especially when I'm out walking. To even think that just walking around is abnormal is, well, pretty darn scary, no matter who expresses the opinion.
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Valerie Kirwan And hopefully while you're walking down that street late one night, you don't get accosted by someone who wasn't stopped from a previous criminal activity a couple hours earlier, because a policeman suspected him, but wasn't allowed to stop and question where he was going. If you have nothing to hide, you should be happy that there are police out there, trying to protect all of us. It's obvious walking on the streets late at night in Sudbury, is a bit different than walking down the streets in a huge metropolitan area.
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Steve May Marty, you are completely generalizing. I don't engage in criminal activities, but I would have a problem being stopped by the police for just being out for a walk. But I guess you've already classified me as one of those "left wing" people who support the Charter. Just FYI, last I checked, right-wingers too tended to support our Charter of Rights. Certainly former Prime Minister Stephen Harper could have taken action to have it revoked, but I don't seem to recall this ever being an issue for him.
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Marty Kirwan LOL, Steve, are you telling me that late at night (2am-6am) that you and your neighbour's are out walking around? I'd say that 90% are asleep, 9% are inside and 1% are out walking. I'm investigating the 1% to protect the 100% of citizens.
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Robert T. Kirwan Stop disagreeing simply to disagree, Steve May You are being totally unreasonable and it is beginning to appear that all you want to do here is continue to argue against what we are saying. We heard what you said, so that is fine. You believe what you want to believe. Marty has provided us with his insight, and that is fine. So stop debating just to debate. This isn't a fight to see who gets in the last word, although if that is what will make you happy, go ahead and get in the last word. I let our readers be the judge. You have a habit of very skillfully using your command of the english language to back people into a corner until they submit to your attacks. Enough is enough. Go and find something else to do. You made your point. Marty stated his position. I have said mine.
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Steve May Robert, I never debate "just to debate" - you might not know that, so I'm being clear here when I tell you that it's never my motivation to debate just for the sake of debating - just so you won't bring it up again. I'm here because a police officer is now telling me that I am engaging in suspicious behaviour which should be subjected to a police check - simply by virtue of me being a pedestrian, walking around my community at a time that the police don't seem to want me to be walking around at. That's pretty scary to me, personally. So I'm trying to understand what might motivate a police officer to stop me and start asking me personal questions and card me.
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Steve May Yes, Valerie, hopefully that's the case. But I run the same risk during the day. Or even just driving my car, for that matter. Or while watching tv in my house.
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Valerie Kirwan So am I to presume that you're also against the police walking around at red lights to catch people using cell phones to protect the rest of us from distracted drivers.? Or how about speed traps? Are these against your constitutional rights as well? I'd rather be safe, than sorry smile emoticon
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Steve May How on earth did you reach that (extremely erroneous) conclusion? What a nonsensical reach. I support police doing their jobs. I don't support random carding.
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Valerie Kirwan LOL...not nonsensical at all Steve! What's the difference between a police officer questioning someone walking around late at night to see what they're up too, than walking around at a red light to check for distracted drivers? They're trying to keep the rest of us safe in both situations!

I've been around long enough Steve, to know that this nonsensical 'debating' is exactly what you love, and think you do best LOL!

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Steve May

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Robert T. Kirwan Marty. it is useless to continue to argue with Steve May This is what he does with all of his debates. He has to have the last word and will constantly try to twist everything around. Thank you Steve May We've heard enough. You are being unreasonable now and there is no point in continuing.
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Steve May Robert, as long as people keep posting here, pretending to know what I think and telling the public that this must be so (as you have just done with your "last word" comment, by the way), I'll keep replying. I'm not being argumentative. I'm trying to correct the record. So please stop making things up about me.
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Robert T. Kirwan I don't have to make things up, Steve May
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Steve May Yes, Marty, I'm telling you that I go out at night and walk around. Sometimes I'm coming home from work at that hour, or have visited a Tim Horton's or Country Style, or am on my way home from the bar. I used to take the dog for a walk sometimes at night when I had one, as many others do on my street. Nothing suspicious about any of that behaviour - or is it?
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Robert T. Kirwan Ask our residents if they appreciate police officers stopping people who are out walking around at 2 or 3 a.m. Ask the people who have had their cars broken into. Yes, Steve. It is abnormal to be walking around at 3 a.m. If you don't understand that then you have bigger issues to deal with than this post.
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Steve May Wow. You're crossing a line here, Robert - calling me abnormal. Be careful.
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Steve May Walking around in my community is not "abnormal". There is nothing wrong with going out at night - heck, as a Council member, you were part of a group that just passed a by-law to authorize our local businesses to set their own hours. I don't think businesses who are open 24 hours would appreciate knowing that there is an elected official who is branding those out to frequent their establishments at night as being "abnormal".
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Steve May For the record, I've never been stopped by the Greater Sudbury police or the OPP and asked what my business has been when I've gone out walking at night. And I don't recall ever seeing anyone else being stopped either.
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Robert T. Kirwan So what is your point, Steve May This is troll-like behaviour on your part in this post. What is your problem? Every time something is stated you find something wrong with it. Accusing me of calling you abnormal? Are you kidding? Are you absolutely kidding? I am seeing what is happening here, Steve May and for your information I do not appreciate it. And don't insult your intelligence by asking me what I mean.
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Steve May Me: I walk around at 3 AM. You: It is abnormal to be walking around at 3 AM. Ergo: You have called me "abnormal". That's not trolling. It's fact. Care to continue to dispute it?
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Robert T. Kirwan Yes. It is not normal to be walking around at 3 a.m. And if you think it is normal, take a survey of how many people actually walk around at 3 a.m. and then tell me it is normal. Give it a break, Steve. This is troll-like behaviour. It is well below what I would have expected from a person like you and it certainly seems to be politically motivated. I do not appreciate it. And if a police officer sees you walking around at 3 a.m. I certainly hope he stops and questions what you are doing.
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Steve May I'm not going to give it a break, Robert. You've publicly stated that I'm participating in an abnormal behaviour. That's low, wrong, and false. I don't appreciate it at all. Walking in my neighbourhood no matter the time of day or night isn't "abnormal". Would you feel the same if I were behind the wheel of a car, driving on MR 80 at 3 in the morning? I see a lot of people doing that too. Presumably, they, like me, are just going somewhere. Abnormal or no?
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Robert T. Kirwan Driving a car at 3 a.m. is normal. Walking on the street is not? Can't you understand that, Steve? What is your point in continuing this ridiculous argument. As I said, this is what trolls do.
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Steve May Uhm, no. I don't see any logic there at all. In both cases, people are going somewhere. By virtue of one person being in a car, and the other on foot - that changes one's motivation how? What a strange values conundrum you've created. So really it's the mode of transportation that one chooses to get around our city which makes you determine whether their behaviour is normal or not. Bizarre. What about a person on a bike, Robert? Normal or abnormal? Or on a bus?
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Steve May The fact is, Robert, about one third of Greater Sudburians don't have access to a car at any time of day or night, according to the 2010 Sustainable Mobility Plan. Would you have every one of them stay inside at night based on your value judgement that they are engaging in "abnormal" behaviour just by walking around? Think carefully about that before answering, as many of these people are those that find themselves in similar circumstances to many of the people in the GTA who have been carded by the police through random police checks.
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Robert T. Kirwan Ridiculous comment, Steve May Once again you are being completely unreasonable with your argument. Do you even read what you are writing? Very few people walk around at 3 a.m. whether they own a car or not. Will you stop this nonsense?
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Steve May Robert, while I would agree that proportionally there aren't that many people walking around our City at 3 AM as compared to other times of day, there are certainly are a good number. And I've lived in cities where it is quite normal to be out and about at all hours of the day or night - which is why I can't help but find your value-judgement that people engaged in walking around at 3 AM are involved in abnormal behaviour.
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Robert T. Kirwan In cities where there are a lot of people out at 3 a.m. like in downtown Toronto, that would be more like normal behaviour. In my subdivision in Val Therese, it is not normal. We live in Sudbury.
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Steve May Robert, it's Sudbury. It's normal. I'm out there - not every night, but I see it.
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Jamie Lamothe By the same logic we shouldn't have any problems allowing officers to raid through our personal belongings and homes if we have nothing to hide. I mean, it's not like there's a national rule about having a right to privacy or anything....
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Steve May Only those with something to hide would be concerned about warrantless searches. If you're doing nothing wrong, why be concerned? That old canard...
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Robert T. Kirwan Jamie Lamothe you are also being totally unreasonable. Of course they don't go to those extremes without a warrant or reason. That is not what is being discussed here.
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Jamie Lamothe Yes. Let's do a word count to see who is listening best.
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Barry Kirwan The article makes its own point, just wait and see what the summer brings as I would hazard a guess that that period is the highest in illegal gun use in Toronto. Pounding, "I don't like this, or I don't like that" are for another thread and has nothing to do with the article.
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Steve May Barry, I asked the originator of this post for the statistics which link carding to arrests - something that the originator said exists. I'm still waiting to receive a link to those statistics. If one is going to base one's opinion on supposition, that's fine - people do it all the time. But to state it as fact and believe that it won't be challenged - well, that's problematic. I guess I'll just have to keep waiting for those statistics. Challenging misinformation isn't righteous indignation - it's trying to set the record straight.
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Robert T. Kirwan No Steve. You went far beyond that and if you let your willful blindness rule your comments, that is your problem. The original article speaks for itself.
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Steve May Still waiting for those stats, Robert. Still waiting.
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Robert T. Kirwan Wait all you want, Steve May I rest my case. You are the one who lost this debate by your unreasonable attacks.
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Robert T. Kirwan The statistics are in the article, Steve May But I doubt you have even read the article by the way you have been commenting.
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Steve May The statistics are not in the article, Robert. You said that there was a link between carding and arrests. I asked to see those statistics, and I continue to wait for you to provide them. The ones in the article merely refer to the number of people who have been charged at some point after being carded - but not necessarily as a direct result of being carded. I'm still waiting.
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Robert T. Kirwan I never said there was a link between carding and arrests. I said that when police are free to do street checks the criminals have a bit more fear about carrying their weapons. In fact, there might be fewer arrests because they don't have weapons, but there may also be fewer criminal acts because the weapons are not being carried.
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Steve May Robert, you wrote, "Police officers do not go around discriminating against people based on their race. They do street checks on people who are committing crimes. The statistics in Toronto are revealing," That statement draws a clear link between people committing crimes, carding and "statistics" which you claim to believe to be "revealing". I have pointed out numerous times in this thread that there are no statistics which link carding to people committing crimes. In fact, the only evidence that we have suggests the exact opposite, as reported in the Toronto Star column I linked to above: about 85% of people carded are never arrested for any crime. So I'm still waiting for your statistics which reveal the link between carding and committing crime, because the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. I'm still waiting.
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Robert T. Kirwan Thank you, Barry. This post had the potential to become a very thought provoking discussion. Too bad it wasn't allowed to develop that way.
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Barry Kirwan One could discuss the content and purpose of the article ad nauseum but divergence is all too often provoking someone's foibles that they just have to get into print. What happens in very large urban settings are not necessarily what happens in smaller cities. However reaction at the political level can affect everyone.
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Steve May Look, we started off discussing the points - but it quickly turned into a mud-slinging match with posters here referring to political motivations and abnormal behaviour in order to make their points. That's really not acceptable.
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Robert T. Kirwan You were the one who, as usual, started slinging the mud,Steve May When are you going to realize that you don't have to pound away until the other side gives into submission? Make your point but you do not need to constantly attack the credibility of the other commentators until they give up. Why do you do this all the time? Do you have to always get the last word in? You go way beyond the limits with your attacks on others and it is not just in this post.
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Steve May Please point to any evidence of name-calling on my part. You've been trying to bully me here all night through supposition, innuendo, and name-calling. Of course I'm not going to let myself be bullied - I'm going to defend my good name against your accusations of abnormality.
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Robert T. Kirwan I am bullying you! Are you kidding? Your line of questioning all night has been nothing but abnormal. No one continually tries so hard to discredit another's opinion like you have tonight. I almost wonder if someone has hacked into your account.
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Steve May Robert, honestly ask yourself this question. If someone wrote here that You, Robert Kirwan, were engaged in an abnormal behaviour, how would that make you feel? What might be your response to it? I think that you might feel hurt and then feel the need to try to defend yourself from such a perverse accusation, no? But when you level that accusation at me, I'm just supposed to suck it up because, well, I'm actually engaging in an abnormal behaviour from your point of view. Please!
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Steve May I just can't believe that you think this sort of name-calling is acceptable in any circumstance.
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Steve May You're better than that, Robert. Aren't you?
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Robert T. Kirwan If you want to continue with this argument, do it in a private message. I am actually going to delete this entire post because it has gone past the point of ridiculous.
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Steve May You do that, Robert. A waste of both of our nights, eh? I'll await your apology for the name-calling you've engaged in here tonight.
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Steve May

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Barry Kirwan Robert, I would be inclined to forget this post and just keep a weather eye on what it is being reported and why.
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Robert T. Kirwan I am either going to stop the commenting or delete the post. It is getting ridiculous. Steve May since this is a pissing match between you and I you can message me privately if you want to continue this. I am stopping the comments for this post and I may delete the entire post.
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(Opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be considered consistent with the policies and/or positions of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)