To my great shame, over the seven years I have lived in Toronto, I have stumbled across impossible distances and insurmountable fences on my way home in the dead of night too alcohol-sodden for my own good. You know what I’m talking about: The backyard hopping missions that wreck your shoes – if you hadn’t lost them already – on the long march to some far-off bed. Those jacket-be-damned missions that occur in the impossibly cold winter, where you are still clutching a pint you managed to smuggle out well beyond the echo of that day’s last call.
All this is not to brag. I have been embarrassingly loaded all over this city on plenty of occasions, marching solo through parts of Toronto I, when in possession of a clearer mental state, would choose to avoid. You know the parts I’m talking about: the precarious junkie pavillions or the pub-houses where you’re likely to be expertly beaten up.
Why do I bring this up, you may ask? Well, I’m trying to say, Toronto is a safe city.
Despite the recent publicity around a shooting at the Eaton Centre, where two low-level bagmen of the Alberta-Ontario drug game were cut down by hailstorm of bullets, Toronto just isn’t that dangerous. If people were indiscriminately murdered with a regularity that you could set your watch to, then the hack journalists that cry bloody murder at the sound of every large, unexpected bang or engine backfire would have fled to the isolated countryside a long time ago.
But, alas, we are human and therefore exist in a tragic condition. Hell, look at what happened at the Batman premiere in Aurora, Colorado. Senseless murder and crime exists everywhere, including in Toronto. But that is no reason to become hysterical.
After an event like the Eaton Centre shooting it never takes journalists long to incite fear through the daily broadsheets. Although in this case there was a surprising exception. Jonathan Kay, National Post’s Comment Editor, has written an article on how safe Toronto actually is. Its actually one of the safest metropolitan centres on the planet In this article he targeted a former Toronto Sun article entitled “War-Zone”. Kay ran through the CBC’s database of murder scenes in Toronto since 2009. He concluded that if you are not embroiled crime yourself, you probably won’t get indiscriminately hurt. (And why is it the people you love who can hurt you the most?)
Aside from a few ambiguous cases each year, the killings generally fall into three groups: (1) domestic violence involving lovers, ex-lovers or parents (accounting for, by my count, a total of four homicides in 2012), (2) settling of accounts among known criminals and (3) violent disputes that erupt suddenly between acquaintances; often late at night; in environments well-saturated with other criminal elements; and fueled by alcohol, drugs or mental illness. – Jonathan Kay National Post
I’ve occasionally found myself treading water close to or in these environments, but I haven’t at any time been in a gang or desired to be. If you do wish for that lifestyle, its out there for you, and its mainly where the homicides occur.
It’s rare for the National Post to post opinions such as this one, typically the people they employ as columnists usually fall through a trapdoor of their own making when they denounce the subject of their columns as ‘irrelevant’ (labour unions, feminists, the NDP, human rights) but devote their time and space to writing and discussing them.
Kay makes a solid argument, saying that fear sells newspapers. He insightfully follows up his rejoinder to the doltish columnists with a theory of his own that is as straightforwardly plausible as it is charmingly funny. Look for yourself, reader, but please don’t be dismayed by the gangland scene that played out in one of the country’s top-notch food courts. You might be safe from mortal danger in Toronto, but face heightened levels of mental duress from this city’s crappy newspapers.