Removing inequalities key to reducing street violence: Mulcair

NDP leader answers questions from Scarborough residents regarding recent violence

Removing inequalities through measures such as long-term job training and investment in post-secondary education, is part of the solution to reducing violence on the street, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said during a community meeting on Friday.

“There is in our Canadian society a lot of prejudice,” Mulcair said. “There are people who are held back not because of the lack of ability, talent or will, but simply because who they are.”

Mulcair, accompanied by his wife Catherine Pinhas and local NDP MPs, met with Scarborough residents at East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club in the Kingston-Galloway neighbourhood to answer questions regarding recent gun violence.

Mulcair started his short speech by mentioning Shyanne Charles, “who loved to dance,” and Joshua Yasay, the two victims killed in the Danzig Street shooting in July.

“It’s easy to make promises in the face of tragedies when the camera is rolling and people are watching,” he said. “The real test comes when those cameras are turned off.”

Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan said the federal Youth Gang Prevention Fund will help with community programming and youth engagement.

“What we are seeing is a cut to that fund,” Sitsabaiesan said, adding that community groups can only access the funding once.

“It needs to be a long-term, ongoing investment in our youth and our communities. That type of leadership needs to come from the federal government and we are not seeing that today.”

Mulcair also said community groups and their funding are valuable.

“Whether it’s federally, provincially or municipally, the signal has to be given that it’s a priority in the long term, and that’s what’s missing,” he told reporters after the meeting.

When asked about NDP MP Olivia Chow’s prospective bid for Toronto mayor in 2014, Mulcair did not confirm or deny the growing speculation that Chow is considering challenging Mayor Rob Ford, who intends to seek re-election.

Mulcair’s appearance in Scarborough came a day after Toronto police charged a man with two counts of first-degree murder in the Danzig shooting.

Earlier in the day, Mulcair toured local charities the East Scarborough Storefront and Variety Village, which he described as “one of the most wonderful models” he has seen across Canada.