Let's look at Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Toronto has become an immigrant city. Almost half of its residents were not born in the city and in time Toronto will become immigrant majority. Also, Toronto will become "minority majority" where racial minority groups will collectively outnumber the white host majority.
The Toronto Star likes to remind us that Toronto is a safe place to live in and one way it does this is by telling us that crime stats are down for that city. There are problems with this of course. Crime stats may be down but this may be the result of residents failing to report crimes. In other words crime has not decreased only the reporting of it. But let's say crime has in fact decreased. This is a relative statement. Crime has decreased in relation to what time? Last year? Two years ago? Three years ago? A decade ago? Crime may have decreased in Toronto by say 2% over the last two years but it may be up 1000% over five years. In other words crime has actually increased over five years and this is what this Toronto Star article is arguing.
Decline in violent crime? Stats tell a different story
Crimes unknown just four decades ago now leave thousands of victims in their wake
Jul 29, 2008 04:30 AM
Crack dealers with guns ... carjackings ... home invasions ... drive-by shootings. This is Canada's new vocabulary of crime. Crimes that were unheard of just 30 years ago.
The day before the Star launched its series, Statistics Canada released its annual report on crime. The Star dutifully reported that crime is down. But is it really? The Star threw out a lot of numbers. So let's take a closer look at some of the long-term numbers.
In 1962, 221 out of every 100,000 Canadians were reported to police as victims of violent crime. By 1992, that number had skyrocketed to 1,082. Yes, by 2007 it had dropped to 930. But over the course of the last four decades, violent crime in this country has not declined. In fact, the increase has been profound.
If reported violent crime peaked in 1992, what has happened since then? Here are some relevant statistics: In addition to collecting crime stats, the federal government also did victimization surveys in 1988, '93, '99 and 2004. These surveys show that back in 1993, 42 per cent of Canadians reported their victimization to police. In 1999, 37 per cent reported. And by 2004, just 34 per cent reported to police. This is a statistically significant drop.
Has violent crime really dropped in recent years? Or is it that more Canadians are not reporting these crimes?
I don't believe that violent crime is down. Consider these numbers, also from Statistics Canada:
Assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon – up 32 per cent since 1998.
Aggravated assault – up 18 per cent over the same period. These are some of the worst assaults in the criminal code. And there were almost 60,000 reported to police in 2007. Those numbers are not insignificant.
The above was written by a Toronto police detective and I am more prone to take his word for it than some privileged white middle-class Toronto Star reporter whose only experience with "the streets" is driving through Jane and Finch on the way to the cottage to bypass backed up traffic on the northbound 400.
Staying with the Toronto area let's look at Peel region. This is a border region west of Toronto that includes the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, two cities that are also experiencing fundamental demographic changes becuase of mass immigration and the spill over effect as Toronto becomes over crowded.
This Toronto Star article is insightful.
Peel grapples with youth violence
Region scrambles for solutions to rising gang activity and record number of homicides
The words jump from a mound of flowers and cards piled by the red brick wall where Alex Masih was slain. The 16-year-old became Peel Region's 17th homicide victim of the year on Aug. 9 when he was gunned down next to this modest townhouse complex near Kennedy Rd. and Williams Parkway, in the heart of Brampton.
A week later Farhan Ali Omar, 22, was stabbed to death in Mississauga, bringing the homicide total to 18, and setting a record for the amount of murders in Peel in a single year. With more than four months to go, the numbers will likely continue to climb in the rapidly expanding suburbs west of Toronto.
But Masih was not just another number for the record books.
He was barely old enough to drive when his life was taken and it's this youthful age demographic that has community leaders in Peel particularly concerned about rising incidents of violent crime in the region.
Increased gang activity in Peel is a trend that police in the region want to curb, before it leads to the type of downward spiral into urban decay that has plagued many North American cities.
In 2003, there were 39 known gangs in Peel. As of last year that number had jumped to 108, said Const. Dirk Niles of the Intelligence Services Gang Unit.
The number of gang members and associates has almost doubled in that period, from just over 800 to well over 1,500 in Brampton and Mississauga today, said Niles, adding that the increase is partially due to improved efforts in tracking gang activity in the region.
Turning our attention to the nation's capitol here is a telling report published in the Ottawa Citizen.
City street gangs contain multitude of ethnicities
More than half of membership foreign-born
Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2008
More than half of Ottawa's 600 confirmed street gang members were born outside of Canada, according to Ottawa police intelligence.
In a report published in the RCMP Gazette magazine, Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Mike Callaghan of the guns and gang section said that 314 of the city's 600 confirmed gang members were born outside the country.
And the membership of Ottawa's two "predominant" gangs -- the West Side Bloods and the Ledbury Banff Crips -- is made up of 57 different nationalities, according to the report.
According to this Vancouver Sun report Vietnamese gangs control most of British Columbia's pot trade.
In 1997, five per cent of marijuana growing suspects identified in Vancouver were of Vietnamese origin, the study found.
By 2000, they made up 87 per cent of all suspects.
Sgt. Gord Friesen, head of the Surrey RCMP drug section, said about 90 per cent of the suspects arrested for marijuana growing in his city now are Vietnamese.
Asian gangs also play a significant role in the drug trade in Ontario even bringing it to Ontario's cottage country as revealed here in an Ottawa Citizen report.
"Twenty-one people went into the bush from every ethnic group, working together to steal someone else's grow," said Det. Sgt. Steinke. "They were armed and wore bulletproof vests." Police initially intercepted a dozen of the thieves and caught the rest of them throughout the evening.
What is interesting to learn is the rise in crime rates in smaller Canadian cities as can be read here in the Toronto Star.
Drugs, guns and violent crime charges, traditionally considered the scourge of the big city, are seeping steadily into small-town Ontario, where the number of serious criminal charges is outpacing even major urban centres, an analysis by The Canadian Press has found.
Violent crime charges – everything from criminal harassment and assault to robbery and murder – have largely stagnated in Ontario's major cities, but the opposite appears to be the case in the less populated centres, where the number of serious charges laid between 2000 and 2007 spiked last year by nearly 25 per cent.
However we also learn that many immigrants are moving into the Suburbs.
And so have street gangs.
I do not wish to paint Toronto as an unsafe city to live in. It is still a safe place to live. But one of the reasons many immigrate to Canada in the first place is the relative safety we live in but it seems immigration may undermine that safety. Many criminal elements get into the country as bogus refugees or overstaying a work permit or visitor's visa and are able to stay becuase Canada consistently fails to adequately monitor who it allows into the country.
Also, though most immigrants do not come to Canada with criminal intentions they end up creating the social conditions in which crime is nurtured in. The prime ingredient is poverty. Poverty rates in Canadian cities are worse than they should be because of the mass importation of individuals who are ill equipped to succeed economically in this country.
As Canada experiences almost unprecedented numbers of immigrant arrivals it is also courting increasing crime rates. Is there a connection? I think there is and it has to do with mass immigration not immigration. We have lost control of our borders and because of this many criminals can slip in quite easily. Equally pertinent is that Canada is importing more people than it can economically absorb forcing many to take "survival jobs" just to get by. It is by no coincidence that Toronto's "poverty by postal code" shows that it is mostly immigrant communities that are stricken by this social disease. It is easy to blame this on systemic discrimination but by doing so we avoid to real cause of the problem: that Canada accepts too many immigrants.
The solution is easy to implement. First, we need to reduce immigration targets. The amount of immigrants Canada accepts cannot solve the demographic and labour issues the country is facing. Second, we need to be more selective. No more sponsored relatives and do away with the outdated and arbitrary points system. Third, refugees should be determined overseas and not be allowed to make asylum claims on Canadian soil. They should be forced to make their claims at the first safe country of passage. We need to put the needs of Canada and Canadians first. This is our country after all.