Tougher stance urged against squeegee kids

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Sat, 25 Jul 1998 11:55:18 -0700


July 25, 1998=20

Tougher stance urged against squeegee kids=20

By Theresa Boyle=20
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Toronto's police chief has asked the province to give priority to
developing legislation to rid the streets of squeegee kids.=20

``Before we can properly address the inappropriate behaviour of some
squeegee kids, we must have laws to assist police in taking action,'' Chief
David Boothby said in a statement yesterday.=20

Boothby said he has asked Attorney-General Charles Harnick to give his
immediate attention to the issue.=20

``I have received numerous complaints from citizens, especially drivers,
about squeegee kids being both a nuisance and a danger,'' Boothby wrote.=20

``They contribute to traffic congestion and can create situations which can
lead to accidents. We cannot overlook the safety issue for both motorists
and squeegee kids.''=20

Toronto police laid charges against more than 30 squeegee kids last week
under the Highway Traffic Act.=20

Officers have also tried charging them with trespassing, drug and alcohol
offences or infractions under the Criminal Code.=20

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``We cannot overlook the safety issue for both motorists and squeegee=
 kids.''=20

David Boothby
Toronto police chief=20

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Boothby wrote the legislation is inadequate because it wasn't drafted to
target squeegee kids. It makes it almost impossible to get a conviction and
leaves no provision if a fine isn't paid.=20

The province is reviewing relevant legislation to improve enforcement, said
Barry Wilson, Harnick's press secretary.=20

Premier Mike Harris has asked the province's Crime Control Commission -
comprised of three backbench Progressive Conservative MPPs - to address the
problem of squeegee kids, Wilson said.=20

``They will conduct a consultation with the public, police and other levels
of government to determine the extent of the issue,'' Wilson said.=20

``We will then determine what recommendations can be followed.''=20

The attorney-general's office is working with federal officials to have the
Criminal Code strengthened, spokesperson Brendan Crawley added.=20

``It's a priority of the government and the ministry to allow Ontarians,
particularly women, to feel safe and not to be harassed on city streets,''
Crawley said.=20

MPP Jim Brown, a member of the Crime Control Commission, said one option is
putting more teeth in the Provincial Offences Act so individuals who don't
pay fines can be jailed.=20

But while authorities are taking a tough stance on squeegee kids, not
everyone feels fines and jail are the best solution.=20


Mayor Mel Lastman ran into a small group of demonstrators in Kensington
Market yesterday on the third of a series of walkabouts he's making through
the city.=20

``Isn't there anything more important to do than pick on squeegee kids?''
asked Jesse Elve, 27, of Lastman's recent promises he was going to rid the
city of the youths.=20

``I was just curious why (Lastman) was putting squeegee kids in jail and
how anyone in the universe could possibly think that's a sane solution to
solving the problems of poverty,'' said Serena, who also confronted Lastman.=
=20

But the mayor continued to hold his ground. ``There will not be any
squeegee kids in Toronto,'' he warned.=20
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With files from Bruce DeMara=20

Contents copyright =A9 1996-1998, The Toronto Star.
User interface, selection and arrangement copyright =A9 1996-1998, Torstar
Electronic Publishing Ltd.=20

--
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'I long for the day when verbally condoning acts of=20
torture or abuse will be considered every bit as heinous=20
a crime as is actually committing these acts'
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