More from Antonella Artuso
July 18, 2018
July 18, 2018 7:19 PM EDT
Minister of Community Safety Michael Tibollo (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)
Ontario’s new Minister of Community Safety started his on-the-job training touring the Jane-Finch community wearing a bulletproof vest.
Michael Tibollo mentioned the visit during Question Period Wednesday while responding to a demand from NDP MPP Kevin Yarde that the province ban carding by police officers outright.
“Personally, I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest and spent 7 o’clock to 1 o’clock in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night,” Tibollo said.
“The police need tools to work with.”
The NDP accused Tibollo of stigmatizing the neighbourhood, and said the Minister was not qualified to oversee the anti-racism secretariat.
“Conservative minister Michael Tibollo’s comment this morning about wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch is inexcusably racist,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tweeted.
Yarde said he was carded about seven years ago, pulled over by a white police officer who asked him what was in garbage bags in the back of his car.
“I think he pulled me over because I was a Black man driving in Mississauga late at night,” Yarde said, adding he hadn’t broken any traffic laws.
The former Ontario Liberal government took steps to severely curtail the use of carding, but critics of the practice say it continues.
Some Toronto police officers have blamed the lack of carding for the rise in gun crime, and the Doug Ford government has not ruled out bringing it back.
Tibollo said people living in Jane-Finch need his government’s help.
The Minister was joined by Ford, and he said the people in the Jane-Finch community seemed pleased to see them.
Tibollo said police gave him the bulletproof vest to wear when he visited a crack house and areas where people had been gunned down.
“The part that I found really difficult was to have an eight-year-old young girl come up to me and to Mr. Ford and say, ‘We’re really happy to see you here, because we live in a very difficult area and you’re trying to make this place safe.’” Tibollo said.
“That, to me, was overwhelming, because as an eight-year-old kid growing up in this city I never would have been concerned or worried about my safety.”
Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter called Tibollo’s comments about wearing a bulletproof vest in the Jane-Finch community problematic.
“I think it’s completely unacceptable for anyone in leadership to stigmatize a community and to reinforce stereotypes that actually are not reflective of the community,” Hunter said. “Jane and Finch is a beautiful community, there are beautiful families that live there, and it’s their home.”