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Toronto council to revisit former chief justice’s youth-violence report

Roy McMurtry, Ontario’s former chief justice, attorney-general and the former high commissioner to Britain, co-wrote the 2008 provincial report on the roots of youth violence.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

One of the men who co-authored a provincial report on the roots of youth violence says he's pleased a Toronto city councillor is taking up the fight.

Roy McMurtry, Ontario's former chief justice, attorney-general and the former high commissioner to Britain, co-wrote the 2008 report with Alvin Curling. In an interview Tuesday, Mr. McMurtry said he wished the report's recommendations had been implemented more aggressively. He pointed specifically to the development of a youth anti-racism plan and the creation of community hubs.

A motion set to go before Toronto city council this week, moved by Josh Matlow, calls on the city to act on some of those recommendations, and to develop a specific youth violence strategy with measurable objectives and timelines.

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"It's time for municipalities to pick up the ball," Mr. McMurtry said.

Mr. Matlow's motion, seconded by Michael Thompson, recommends that council direct the city manager to report back by June on the status of provincial-municipal reports on youth violence.

The motion also recommends that council direct the city manager to develop a youth anti-racism plan, create community hubs, establish co-ordinating bodies to improve access to services, implement programs to familiarize families with community supports, and reduce barriers to youth recreation programs.

"It's a very good start," Mr. McMurtry said of the motion, adding it might have been naïve of him to believe the province could co-ordinate all these efforts. "I would like to see other communities do it."

Premier Kathleen Wynne was asked about the spate of youth violence after Tuesday's Throne Speech. She said there needs to be an ongoing discussion between agencies, the city of Toronto and police on community safety issues.

"If there were a simple solution to this, then we would all have seized on it by now."

Mr. Matlow has said politicians either call for a gun ban or commissions whenever there is a high-profile instance of youth violence but the time for action is now

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"I believe it's time for action," he said during an interview earlier this week. "It's time for the political will to move forward."

Mr. Matlow did not know just how much funding would be required for his motion.

Mr. Curling, like Mr. McMurtry, said earlier this week that he did not believe the recommendations from the 2008 report were sufficiently implemented. He said there needs to be better co-ordination among ministries to address specific issues, such as poverty.

He also said the rate of mental-health issues among youth is a concern.

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