The purpose of protest is supposedly to change public opinion and by doing so, change public policy. So why would anyone claiming to be seriously interested in influencing public policy start out by adopting a slogan (De-fund the Police) that is not supported by about 95 percent of the population? You are now left with a tiny minority of the community who probably already support you. So now you are caught in a closed feedback loop that is going absolutely nowhere. Such is public discourse in 2020. Add to that, the further erosion of support that will now occur as a result of the hyperbolic stunt of dragging a coffin in front of the Mayor’s residence to illustrate what? And by the way, coffins are expensive. Where did they get it, and who enabled it, since these homeless kids couldn’t like afford to buy or rent a coffin?
If this was really about somebody not having a place to shelter, it’s worth noting that the city’s Emergency Services Director said yesterday that right now there are spaces available in city-operated shelters and in the hotels and motels that have been commissioned to deal with the crisis. Nobody is arguing that we don’t have a homelessness crisis in the city. Nor is anyone disputing the fact that the police budget grows faster than any other departmental budget in the city, and probably needs closer scrutiny. In fact we have argued exactly that here.
The young people who engaged in the protests are not completely to blame. As a society the notion that each generation would have it better than the last has been shattered. Being able to afford a home of one’s own is becoming an impossible dream…and along with that rents keep pace with the real estate boom– making renting a decent place out of reach for many. We have to do a better job of providing employment, livable wages and hope for those who are disillusioned and not participating in Canada’s prosperity.
In all the discussion about de-funding the police, there has been no discussion about the impact a 50 percent reduction in the police budget would have on the safety and well-being of the community. The police board did go through a 20 percent budget reduction exercise, the results of which people can believe or not at their pleasure, but really? A 50 percent budget cut? And had anybody done the math on how much social housing you would get for $85 Million—maybe 200 units…maybe. Disillusioned young people can be forgiven for thinking such a solution could work. But based on social media chatter, apparently this goal is also supported by people who fancy themselves as community leaders, all comfortably housed by the way—a communication expert, a “critical thinker” and a former and probably future candidate for city council– to name but three. They should know better.