Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2007
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Christina Blizzard, Toronto Sun
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Must Be Tough Enough For Hardliners, Touchy-Feely For Red Tories -- To
Distance Him From Harris

To no one's great surprise, John Tory was duly nominated as the
Progressive Conservative candidate in Don Valley West last night.
He'll face off against Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.

The party leader delivered an acceptance speech that touched on what
is expected to be a central theme in the Tories' platform -- crime.

Tory talked about the shooting death of Jordan Manners at C.W.
Jefferys Collegiate last month. Manners, 15, was gunned down inside
the school and two 17-year-olds have been charged with first-degree
murder in connection with his death.

Tory said he's talked to the Manners family -- both at a community
barbecue put on for them and at the funeral home.

"I went to the funeral home where Jordan's mother asked me to promise
her that we wouldn't let her son's death be in vain," Tory said last

He told the party faithful that Premier Dalton McGuinty and his
Liberals "mock me when I say we need to collect and report bail
violations, sentencing deals and dropped charges."

The Opposition leader says the public has the right to know what's
going on in the justice system.

"I will make those statistics public," he promised.

"Crown attorneys are in court representing us and the people I talk to
virtually without exception say it is time to get serious, especially
when it comes to repeat offenders and charges involving guns and violence."

One of the Tories' star candidates, and father of Toronto's Crime
Stoppers program, Gary Grant, has been nominated to take on Children's
Minister Mary Anne Chambers in Scarborough Guildwood.

More Delicate

At their convention this weekend, the Tories will release key portions
of their election platform. It walks a careful line, clearly hoping to
appeal to the tough on crime section of the party without alarming
centrists who want a more delicate approach to crime prevention.

You can't avoid the conclusion that it is a document that seeks to
sever once and for all any links to the hard right approach of Mike
Harris to crime. The policies are couched in tactful language that is
clearly aimed at avoiding a depiction of crime as an issue of race.

One key section of the crime platform addresses "fighting poverty,"
and starts out, "There's a wise old saying that each of us is only 24
hours, three meals and a bed from desperation," and it goes on to laud
Tory's work as a former volunteer chair of the United Way.

(Okay, I suspect John Tory is more than 24 hours, three meals and a
bed from poverty, but it's nice of his platform to acknowledge those
of us who are.)

Under the guns and gangs section of the platform, the Tories note
"Ontario has seen the highest increase in gang-related homicides in
the country; these more than doubled between 2004-05."

They also say they will target marijuana grow-ops.

"They endanger neighbourhoods with hazardous chemicals and our entire
province with their addictive products," says part of the platform.

They will advocate for mandatory minimum sentences -- something
already in the works at the federal level. Tories also want the
Criminal Youth Justice Act beefed up. Again, that's a federal

The Tories promise to establish a registry to inform potential
homeowners and renters that a property has been used as a grow-op,
something Liberal Attorney General Michael Bryant mused about earlier
this year.

Included in the platform is a pledge to crack down on white-collar
crime with a promise to set up a new court with specialist judges to
deal with corporate fraud and other swindles. A new securities fraud
tribunal will protect small investors who've been scammed of their
life savings.

Drop In The Bucket

In fairness to Tory, he was on the gun crime issue before it showed up
on the Liberal radar. McGuinty threw $4 milllion at the issue this
week, but it's a drop in the bucket, especially when two years ago,
during the so-called summer of the gun, they were reassuring everyone
that we really don't have a problem.

Will Tory's be platform be tough enough for the hardliners and wussy
enough for the Red Tories? We'll see, but in Don Valley West, you
can't help thinking crime will play this summer. Politically, a
- ---
MAP posted-by: Steve Heath