Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Michael Tibollo is being accused of stigmatizing the Jane and Finch community by wearing a bulletproof vest during a police ride-along in the area.
Tibollo, who also oversees Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate, mentioned the vest while responding to a question on carding from NDP MPP Kevin Yarde in the legislature on Wednesday,
“Personally, I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest, and spent 7:00 to 1:00 in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night,” Tibollo said. “The police need tools to work with.”
Horwath said in a tweet Tibollo’s comment was “inexcusably racist.”
Conservative minister Michael Tibollo's comment this morning about wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch is inexcusably racist. Anyone who would say something so divisive has no credibility to continue to oversee Ontario's Anti-Racism Directorate. #onpoli
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) July 18, 2018
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner concurred.
“It is unfortunate the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Minister in charge of the Anti-Racism Directorate would make remarks that stigmatize an entire neighbourbood in such an unfair light,” he said in a statement.
“Comments such as these reinforce unhelpful stereotypes that perpetuate racism. Minister Tibollo should issue an apology to the many people who call the Jane and Finch community home.”
On July 7, Tibollo tweeted a photo of himself in the bulletproof vest during a ride-along with police.
I had the opportunity to travel around 31 Division and learn about the great work of our police force. We are committed to work with our Police to ensure safe neighborhoods free of guns and gang violence. Glad to have Premier Ford join me and hear his concerns as well.@ONsafety pic.twitter.com/4fpGUfTdhD
— Michael Tibollo (@MichaelTibollo) July 8, 2018
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash explained why a vest was needed.
“When police do a ride-along, there is a safety assessment,” he said in an email. “That assessment takes into account a variety of factors. Since we always err on the side of caution, there is a presumption that the person doing the ride-along will be provided with a vest.”
Tibollo called Horwath’s criticism “petty partisan politics.”
“Any attempt to spin my comments this morning, is petty partisan politics. I am proud to support our police, and I will continue to work with communities and front-line officers to make sure our neighbourhoods are safe,” Tibollo tweeted.
Any attempt to spin my comments this morning, is petty partisan politics. I am proud to support our police, and I will continue to work with communities and front line officers to make sure our neighbourhoods are safe. https://t.co/baJye2tlbG
— Michael Tibollo (@MichaelTibollo) July 18, 2018