Stephen Harper poses for a photo with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at Toronto Police Service Division 43 on July 24, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Fred Thornhill
TORONTO -- They met in the shadow of a Scarborough bloodbath that left two innocents dead and 23 wounded.
And, when the private meeting on gun violence with Prime Minister Stephen Harper was over, Mayor Rob Ford claimed it was just the start to ensure Toronto has tools to "prevent gang violence and protect the public from criminals."
Ford didn't speak with reporters following Tuesday's meeting at 43 Division, but later issued a statement heralding the gathering as "very productive."
Ford and Harper were joined at the meeting by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Councillor Doug Ford and Councillor Paul Ainslie.
At an announcement in Oshawa later in the day, Harper said they talked about tackling gun crime.
"We obviously discussed the recent events and our continued and, I think, joint determination -- and one shared by the province -- to tackle gun crime directly," Harper said.
"I certainly encouraged the city and the province to continue to work together. We have been working together on enforcement measures, we've also been working together at trying to make sure we can make some of these gun penalties stick before the courts," he said.
"We discussed a range of enforcement measures, a range also of the criminal justice measures that are before Parliament and the necessity of making those stick.
"I made some specific suggestions to the mayor as he did to me, and we're both going to look into some additional measures we can also take," he added.
Harper touted the federal Conservatives' push for tougher penalties for gun offences.
"I think these events in Toronto underscore why these penalties are essential, why it is essential to have tough and certain penalties for gun crime," he said. "I certainly call on the courts to take these penalties seriously; this is not a theoretical problem."
Ford sped away from the meeting in his SUV shortly after Harper's motorcade left. Hours after the meeting, the mayor's office released a statement from Ford saying the two "agreed to continue working together to do everything we can to better protect our community.
"We shared a number of ideas that will be followed up in the next weeks and months," Ford stated. "This is the beginning of ongoing work to make sure we have the tools in place to better prevent gang violence and protect the public from criminals."
The meeting came a day after Ford met with Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to discuss gun violence in the wake of last week's mass shooting on Danzig St. in Scarborough.
Councillor Adam Vaughan said Ford's meetings on gun violence with other levels of government have yet to produce anything tangible.
"The only good thing about them is ... I think the mayor has learned his opinion has been muted," Vaughan said. "Whoever got to him and told him to stop talking about this has probably done more good than harm.
"As for the mayor, I think he's walked his way out, if not talked his way out, of this conversation and it is up to council to figure out a solution," he added.