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Our Rights and the Future

Kris Langenfeld, our new Toronto Mayor

Who do you trust more to understand and protect your rights? Do you think John Tory is protecting your rights? Privacy, Searches, Cameras, Electronic Tracking, Police Oversight… where has John Tory stood on those issues over the last 3½ years?

As a member of the 7-member Toronto Police Services Board, John Tory, with his former Provincial Conservative campaign manager and still fundraiser, Andy Pringle, tried to bring back Carding, police randomly stopping members of the public to question them, record and maintain in a database, your name, who you associate with, where you're going and where you've been; a process which is invariably biasedly applied, arguably the reason why the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits it.

Toronto's 9% Black population represents over half of the database that John Tory decided to keep, despite the Wynne Provincial government having put in place regulations prohibiting such police activity moving forward, but legislation which, unfortunately for the people of Toronto, left the previously collected data subject to the will of John Tory as to whether or not that information was kept so that it could be accessed later; and it has been accessed, many, many times; one can only assume that it is the mostly young black men, who make up the majority of that database, who continue to have the Tory state reviewing their whereabouts and associations — and some people wonder why those whose information has been illegally collected and is used by police, don't contact police to report gang activity and crime — all the things that they know are ruining the neighbourhoods that they live in.

And most of us outside of those neighbourhoods never think to question: Why don't the mothers and sisters and fathers and brothers, of those in the neighbourhoods that see the crime and know where the crime and criminals are, why don't they want to go to the police? Why don't they want to go to the police who have harassed them and their children, their parents and their families, their friends and their friend's families? Why, oh why, won't these people help us police them?, they ask. Under John Tory, we spend millions more to send more police into these same neighbourhoods, as we simultaneously talk about restoring the programs of harassment that the public, the experts, the lawyers, the legislature, have all acted to prevent because they've been proven to be counterproductive, and then we wonder why Toronto's policing is so ineffectual in responding to the recent shootings.

Good policing comes from police being in communities in a positive role; not harassing visible minorities; not collecting information ultimately prohibited by the Province; not using information that was collected before its collection was prohibited in law; not installing surveillance cameras and microphones into those neighbourhoods. But John Tory keeps approving these types of plans; and supporting them at the police board and council. He's already approved $4M at the police board and had city council approve the funds within a week of that, to finance putting in those cameras and microphones without any public consultation; having secretly brought in that request for funds at the last minute, trying to prevent the public speaking on it, even though he admitted having police brass at City Hall to negotiate the installation of these monitoring devices the week before it was brought as a last minute item to the public police board meeting.

Premier Ford gives Tory a week's notice of the coming changes to council, face-to-face, in-person, in a private meeting, and John Tory thinks ‘Dougie must be joking’ — John tells us it's a terrible, potentially disastrous idea, that must be stopped no matter what the cost to voters and taxpayers — but Tory makes sure not to ask Ford even one question about it before it's too late. Tory will spend of fortune of taxpayer dollars to launch a legal challenge against the authority of the Province, for daring to interfere in the way he and his friends on council want to do things, something that, according to Tory, only a referendum (to keep everything the same for another four years until someone else can run against Doug Ford provincially) can address the need to determine the will of the people; but at the same time it's okay for John not to wait for public consultations before getting council to pony up $4-million taxpayer dollars to fund more surveillance of the public by Tory and Toronto Police.

John Tory repeatedly demonstrates his desire to fund more government invasiveness, programs proven to be ineffectual for public safety, and which historical governments, controlled by those like John's elitist friends, including his lil’ ol’ multi-millionaire Tory himself, invariably used to harm their own citizenry — ‘those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. We need to learn from the history of governments who excessively surveil their citizens and from John Tory's history of ineffectiveness and his willingness to ignore Torontonians' rights.

Whose interests will John Tory be representing when he's negotiating with Google's sister company, Sidewalk Labs, as they plan to install ubiquitous tracking sensors throughout a new downtown Toronto neighbourhood? Wouldn't you rather have someone other than John Tory looking out for your interests when the time comes to consider such issues? Wouldn't you feel safer knowing that someone who actually cares about the future of privacy in this city is addressing those issues on your behalf?

Googling Kris Langenfeld Toronto lists stories of court battles to protect the public's rights; and searching through police board minutes and city hall reports reveals reams of government policy, particularly policing, police budgets, police oversight, individual's rights and protections against police excesses, and recommendations against excessive spending under Tory. I have fought for people's rights and I expect that I will continue to do so — the fact is that more difficulties will be avoided, and more problems will get resolved, with me as your Mayor of our City of Toronto.