Rescind the Taser roll-out

Premier Wynne Must:

Rescind the Taser Roll-Out
Implement Coroners’ Inquest Recommendations and Save Lives
Put Police Under Public, Civilian Control!

The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) is calling on the provincial government to rescind its decision to permit all Ontario police officers to carry and use lethal Tasers. Instead, police should be trained to de-escalate crises situations, and save lives. The CPC (O) also demands that police should be put under strict public, civilian control, and that the province should give these civilian boards the powers they need to make police accountable.

The government’s decision was clearly made in response to the mass public outcry to the police killing of Sammy Yatim, who died after police fired 9 bullets and then tasered the dying teen.

Premier Wynne and Community Safety Minister Meilleur hope their decision will absolve the government of any responsibility for the increasing number of police shootings in Ontario, as well as the government’s inaction implementing the recommendations of a dozen Coroners Inquests on police shootings of people in mental and emotional crisis.

But Tasers are also lethal weapons, and by arming police officers across the province with these lethal weapons, the provincial government has just escalated the danger of even more police killings in Ontario – exactly what the public is angry about.

Now we know that a day after the Minister’s announcement, Peel Police tasered an 80 year woman in Mississauga, breaking her hip and hospitalizing her with other injuries. She is lucky to be alive following the police attack.

The solution is not more force, but less force by police, and more education and training to effectively de-escalate crises situations. These are the recommendations of dozens of Coroner’s Inquests into police killings of individuals in crisis situations – recommendations that have been consistently ignored by Liberal and Tory governments.

Further, Police Services and Senior Staff must be held accountable to ensure that de-escalating crises situations is the first response and that police guns are holstered. This accountability can only be ensured with public civilian control of police. The provincial government must give civilian boards the powers they need to make police accountable to the communities they police.

At a cost of $1,500 each, the Taser purchase will be a big bite in city budgets which the province will not pay for. What exactly will be cut to offset the Taser purchases? Will it be cuts to municipal services? Children’s services? Public health? This is a cost that the province is downloading onto municipalities which are already over-burdened.

The escalation of police shootings of individuals in crisis parallels the increased police violence against legal strikes, protests and demonstrations such as occurred at the G20 in 2010. In addition to putting police under public civilian control, the provincial government should act now to repeal the Public Works Protection Act, which enabled martial law and the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

For more information, contact Contact: Elizabeth Rowley, Leader