‘Enough is enough:’ Ford, Trudeau quick to denounce shootings at Jewish schools in Montreal and Toronto

Ontario Premier Doug Ford suggested to reporters, without any evidence to date, that immigrants may be behind the shooting at an all-girls Jewish school in Toronto.

After several disturbing incidents at Jewish schools in Toronto and Montreal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford both said enough is enough with the premier suggesting immigrants are to blame for the shooting.

At an unrelated announcement in Toronto on Thursday, Trudeau said he was disgusted by what he called “vile and despicable acts of antisemitism” after learning that a Jewish school in Montreal was struck by gunfire overnight. It comes on the heels of a similar shooting at an all-girls Jewish school in Toronto over the weekend. No injuries were reported in either incident.

While investigators in both cities have not definitively concluded that the incidents were hate-related, the Prime Minister said federal officials were working with local law enforcement to ensure the perpetrators would be held accountable.

“It needs to stop now. Jewish parents and students across the country, we stand with you. We will always work to safeguard your right to live proudly Jewish lives in Canada,” said Trudeau. “We cannot and will not let this antisemitism stand in Canada.”

Ford joined Trudeau in denouncing the shootings, adding that we can’t have people in the Jewish community being attacked like they have been.

“What lunatic goes around shooting up schools? That is just unacceptable,” said Ford. “These guys need to be caught, they need to be punished, they need to be thrown in jail.”

Ford then went on to suggest, without any evidence to date, that immigrants may be behind the Toronto shooting.

“Enough is enough, you’re bringing your problems from everywhere else in the world, you’re bringing it to Ontario and you’re going after other Canadians, as the Prime Minister said, unacceptable. I got an idea, before you plan on moving to Canada don’t come to Canada if you’re going to start terrorizing neighbourhoods like this. Simple as that,” said a visibly irritated Ford.

“I’ve just had it up to here and guess what, people outside those communities, they’ve had it too.”

So much harm, so much damage

Opposition members at Queen’s Park called the premier’s comments offensive and insulting to newcomers and called on him to apologize for singling out a specific group.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles said in a social media post she was “appalled” by the Premier’s racist remarks and also called on him to apologize.

“Fighting hate with hate has never worked. Fighting anti-semitism with xenophobia won’t keep communities safe.”

“I think with no evidence about who actually took the shots, it’s way too early to be speculating what might have motivated them but also it paints an entire group of people with an unfair brush,” said Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Chandra Pasma. “We have no idea even if the person who took the shots was an immigrant, that does not mean every immigrant coming to Canada shares these ideas or that they’re guilty of this kind of hate and division.”

“What he said was really dangerous,” said Liberal MPP Ted Hsu. “Blaming the actions of individuals on groups, that’s something if you studied history for the last 100 years, that has been a really dangerous thing to say for any society.”

“An individual did that and an individual should be held responsible. These kinds of comments they can do so much harm, so much damage and that’s not what we need right now,” added fellow Liberal MPP Karen McCrimmon.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also called Ford’s comments dangerous.

“He’s inflaming anti-immigrant sentiment without any proof to back up the claims he’s making today,” Schreiner said. “That is completely irresponsible. It’s beneath the dignity of a premier, and I believe the premier should apologize.”

CityNews reached out to the premier’s office for clarification on his comments and were told, “The premier was clear, if you are in Ontario, we have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour. These actions do not reflect Canadian values.”

Ford later took to social media, saying those who want to call Ontario home would “always be welcome.”

“My comments today meant to stress that there is more that unites us than divides us,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Toronto police have released images of a suspect vehicle involved in the shooting. Two suspects are being sought, but descriptions are limited with police only saying they both wore dark clothing and fled in a dark-coloured vehicle.

It isn’t the first time Ford has weighed in on a case before all the facts have come to light.

In 2021, Toronto police Const. Jeffrey Northrup died after being run over in an underground parking garage and investigators charged Umar Zameer with first-degree murder in his death. Zameer was exonerated a few months ago after a jury found him not guilty.

Zameer, who was with his pregnant wife and two-year-old son at the time, testified he didn’t know Northrup and his partner – who were both in plain clothes – were police officers. He testified he tried to escape as safely as possible from what he believed to be an attack on his family after two strangers ran up to his car and banged on it.

Ford lashed out after Zameer was granted bail early on in the case. The premier said on social media that the bail decision was “completely unacceptable.” Ford initially described Zameer as the person responsible for this heinous crime,” but later changed it to “the person charged.”

After the verdict, Ford said he did not have all the information at the time he made those statements.

Ontario Liberal party parliamentary leader John Fraser said the premier needs to avoid weighing in on cases when little is known.

“He hasn’t learned anything since his comments about Umar Zameer, and how much that affected that man and that family,” Fraser said.

“It’s a premier’s job to be calm and the voice of reason and what he really should be saying is ‘we’re going to do everything we can to protect any community that is affected by hate.'”

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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