Toronto Council Votes to Increase Police Budget

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by Barry Weisleder

It was a slap in the face to the tens of thousands who rallied and marched for weeks to protest cop brutality and murder. On June 29 Toronto City Council defeated a move, 8 votes to 16, to ask the Toronto police to cut its budget in 2021 by at least 10 per cent.

Instead, the Council adopted a series of motions backed by Mayor John Tory which propose reforms that don’t include immediate defunding of the police.

These hardly-novel ‘reforms’ include developing alternative ways for police to respond to calls that don’t involve weapons, a call for the Police Services Board to provide Council with a line-by-line breakdown of the budget, and ask that Council “commit to eradicating racial profiling in policing.”

One of Tory’s motions approved by Council will actually see the police budget increase by $5 million in 2021 — if the request for body-worn cameras for all officers is fully implemented.

“I’m very frustrated, but beyond that I am so incredibly embarrassed that this is our city council,” Sandy Hudson, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, told the Toronto Star after the vote.

While most of the councillors who voted for a measly 10 per cent cut to the bloated $1.1-plus billion police budget happen to be individual members of the labour-based New Democratic Party, they sit on council as ‘independents.’ The ‘independent’ Liberals and Tories who dominate Canada’s largest municipal government make sure it serves Toronto’s rich and powerful.  This example of toadying to the cops, not to mention condoning the escalating crises in housing, transportation and healthcare, vividly demonstrates the need for radical change.  How?  Compel the NDP to run an official party slate that is committed to slashing the police budget by at least 50 per cent, as demanded by Black Lives Matter and the No Pride in Policing Coalition.  And if such a pledge is not made soon, labour and the left should form a coalition pledged to run candidates in 2022 on socialist policies, including Disarm, De-fund and Disband the cops.