Are All Gang Members in Toronto Immigrants?

By Author: admin | July 20, 2012

Toronto’s mayor seems to think so.  Following the shooting last Sunday July 15 2012 in Scarborough, Mayor Rob Ford on Thursday expressed a wish that gang members be prohibited from returning to Toronto upon their release. It is not yet known what, if any, policy measures Mayor Ford was referring to. At the same conference he expressed in own troubling ignorance as to the “immigration laws” and revealed that he was going to sit down with Prime Minister to find out what could be done.

Implicitly, the Mayor conflated gang members with ethnic minorities and ethnic minorities with immigrants. While there is no doubt a measure of correlation in gang membership, even base cursory analysis reveals the groups referred to are themselves, heterogeneous. Specifically, the Mayor evidently fails to understand that not all gang members have dark skin, and not all ethnic minorities are immigrants.

If the Mayor’s statements were the isolated rhetorical inventions, they would be easy to dismiss. Unfortunately, Rob Ford’s statements are only the latest in a series of comments by those who have made  ignorance a profession.

The Mayor subsequently attempted to take a step back from his candid statements in light of the fact that in the case of gang members who are Canadian citizens, no level of government has the power to do what Mr. Ford proposed.

Specifically, Mayor Ford backtracked on his proposal by stating, “I don’t think the other half of my statement came out quite clearly. It has nothing to do particularly with immigration or where you come from, which I think John was trying to say, all I want to do is get information, which I’m not an expert on…”

The tendency for politicians to be lauded by right wing media as a ‘straight-shooter(s)’ when they profess not to be an expert is troubling.  Such plaudits relieve a politician of accountability for their statements, and competency in their office.  In the case of Mayor Ford, the resultant racial discourse has the effect of polarizing Canada’s communities along race lines, to the detriment of Toronto’s liveability.

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