Toronto's homicide rate is on pace from last year; gun deaths are up 50% from last year. Perception wise, Toronto has had a bad stretch of gun shootings and deaths.
Montréal had a high-profile killing and dismemberment. In Edmonton, 3 ABM employees were killed in an allegedly inside job.
So you could argue that Canada is in a bad way concerning gun deaths. Yet all of the above cases don't add up to the number who died in the Aurora shooting last Friday.
-- Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair called the Scarborough shooting (2 killed, 23 wounded) the worst incident in his 35-year history. Most major cities have more casualties and as many wounded on most weekends.
-- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty spoke up and said we shouldn't jump to hasty solutions to deal with the problems. You heard constructive active leadership, unlike what you get in the United States. While American politicians were talking or not talking, the Ontario government pledged $12.5 million in new funding, including programs to increase enforcement and community outreach programs.
-- While Toronto is larger than all but 3 U.S. cities, its murder rate is far below most American cities, regardless of size.
One element where the U.S. has an advantage is in the mayoral department. The lack of political leadership on the U.S. national level isn't lacking on the local level. Mayors are much more concerned about community programs and reducing the number of guns.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been consistently against community programs that keep youths motivated away from gangs and drugs. As the Globe and Mail put it:
"For his part, Mr. Ford has said he does not believe what he called “hug-a-thug” programs curb gun crime. Earlier this month, Mr. Ford cast the lone vote at council against more than 300 grants worth $16-million, some which flow to priority neighbourhoods. In June, he was the only member of council to vote against accepting $350,000 in federal money for an anti-gang program."
Ford has also proposed that Toronto could kick criminals out of the city. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has passed stricter legislation on required jail time, a move that won't help make this Toronto problem any better.
Democratic people and liberals in the United States feel like if they read off the list of the victims that conservatives will start to think about a little gun control. When you heard about the 6-year-old girl who was killed in Aurora, did you think about Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl who was shot and killed in the Arizona shooting that severely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)? Or did we forget this quickly?
One of my Canadian friends who lives in the United States told me that the difference between Canadians and Americans was that Canadians care about each individual shooting and Americans have one shooting go into another shooting.
A hotter than average summer combined with economic turmoil, especially in poorer neighborhoods, such as the area of the Scarborough shooting, make gun violence more likely. Even with that, Toronto should still be concerned about the rise in gun violence. All but the Eaton Centre shooting happened in out of the way areas where few tourists go, unless you count the old school gangland assassination on College Street.
Consider the story of Jessica Gwahi, who made a turn and ate her lunch outside the Eaton Centre food court just as a shooting was about to happen. Gwahi was visiting her boyfriend in Toronto, but was working on an intern at a Denver radio station when she met her end in the Aurora shooting.
Even if Gwahi had stayed in the food court, her chances of getting shot even in Toronto, Canada's largest city, were much less than getting shot in her home country, the United States. And even less likely to be a victim of a mass shooting while visiting in Canada.