Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is calling for a balanced approach that deals with both criminals and the root causes of crime after a visit to the east Toronto neighbourhood where a brazen shooting last Monday night left two people dead and 23 wounded.
"The smartest way to deal with crime is to be tough both on crime and on the causes of crime," he said in a news conference at the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club.
McGuinty spoke with local community leaders who are trying to prevent violence and steer youths away from joining gangs.
He is also set to meet with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair, and a member of the federal government on Monday. Ford in particular has called for more money for policing and a crackdown on gun violence that would include banishing criminals from the city.
The premier said policing is important and said a handgun ban would be appropriate. But he said policing will only form part of any solution.
"This is a complex matter, it's a tough nut to crack, it's something we're going to all have to find a way to get our arms around," he said. "And I think we've got to beware of simplistic, short-sighted solutions."
Ford has said he doesn't support funding for youth programs, which he has called "hug-a-thug programs."
"That’s unfortunate," McGuinty said, speaking about Ford's comments. "That’s shortsighted. And it reflects a lack of understanding that this is a complicated problem. It’s going to take all of us and it’s going to take all of us at our best."
Community leaders sounded hopeful after the meeting.
Margaret Parsons of the African Canadian Legal Clinic said the premier was very open to the discussion.
"I think he was also very honest and candid," he said. "I think he really cares about finding solutions. What we want him to do, though, is listen to the community."
The club where McGuinty spoke is on Galloway Road, which one of Toronto's most notorious street gangs, the Galloway Boys, takes its name from.
Nineteen-year-old Nahom Tsegazab of Toronto is the first person charged in Monday's shooting.
He is charged with reckless discharge of a firearm but police say the charge doesn't relate to the deaths of 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay.
Tsegazab is among the injured, and remains in custody in hospital.
At least one more suspect is being sought.