An Updated Statement on Anti-Black Racism and the Toronto Police Service Budget

ByBrad Bradford

Thank you to everyone who has reached out in the past weeks about anti-Black racism and defunding the police. I’m incredibly concerned about this issue, about the police and the struggle we face to address systemic racism in our city. I’ve had lots of discussions with community members like you and leaders in the Black community, as well as scouring my own conscience for the best way to resolve this. The next Council meeting will be extremely important. Right now, we only know about Councillor Matlow’s motion. Councillor Shelley Carroll, who spent years on the Police Services Board, is also working on a proposal. I have to be honest – this isn’t my area of expertise. So I want to see all the options and weigh them up carefully before making a decision.

All I can say right now is that I’ll support a motion that:

  • Gives real control of the police budget to City Council – right now we do not have the legal power from the Province to add or remove items from the budget. Getting that power is crucial.
  • Makes real progress to address systemic racism, not only in policing, but across City services.
  • Invests in tackling the root causes of crime – especially poverty and inequality.
  • Invests in new programs to modernize our first response to incidents in the community involving mental health, addictions, homelessness, domestic violence, school discipline, neighbour conflict, and other frontline calls. Whenever possible, we should be de-escalating these situations and avoid sending uniformed police.
  • Redirects resources from reactive to proactive programs tackling the causes of crime.
  • Mobilizes quickly to build on the current momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Offers real, implementable measures to improve the lives of Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities.

I know that this is still a statement of principles. As I mentioned, there will likely be a number of motions at City Council on June 29th and I will consider them all carefully based on what I’ve outlined above, and the many conversations I continue to have. More than anything, we need action. That’s my focus. From my short time in politics I’ve quickly learned that sometimes the best outcomes might come from choosing something that feels less satisfying or comfortable. The objective of actually tackling systematic racism in policing and elsewhere is more important than anything else. For now, any help you can give in keeping the dialogue going is the most valuable contribution you, and all of us, can make. I hope we keep it positive, productive, and focused on the outcomes.