Monday, October 31, 2005

The City of Toronto whrings it's hands as crime increases, and fails to do anything about it.

Stats, zero tolerance will help curb crime: Giuliani


The man who successfully tackled crime in New York City during some of the city's darkest days offered some potentially contentious advice today to Canadian political leaders and police battling the growing scourges of gang wars and drugs.

Authorities must collect detailed crime statistics and adopt a zero tolerance policy for all criminal offences no matter how benign, Rudolph Giuliani said after addressing a conference on crisis leadership.

"You've got to be on offence against crime, not just defence," said Giuliani. "If you do those two things, you can reduce crime anywhere."

The recent rise in gang-related gun crimes in Canadian cities have officials scrambling for solutions. Toronto has expanded its guns and gangs task force to include surrounding municipalities, and Winnipeg is spending some $800,000 on a new unit to battle street thugs.

Still, a summer of headlines documenting gang warfare have raised the spectre that Canada's largest cities are assuming the "mean streets" reputation that once dogged New York City.

While that city saw dramatic reductions in crime during Giuliani's 1993 to 2002 mayoral reign — a 70 per cent drop according to statistics — his methods were not without controversy. Civil libertarians decried the use of zero-tolerance policies and compiling crime statistics to pinpoint criminal hotspots and clamp down on crime.

Modelling preventative crime-fighting strategies on those statistics, which can include the assailant's race, continues to raise concerns about racial profiling.

This summer in Toronto, a chorus of protest erupted against the idea of singling out young black men as a means of cracking down on the city's gun violence. The black city councillor behind the remarks went to pains to distance himself from suggestions of racial profiling.

For Giuliani, collecting crime statistics is the antithesis of racial profiling.

"I think if you use the statistics correctly they literally break you of stereotyping," he said.

"They give you the real numbers as opposed to what some people might have in their heads as a stereotype. They reveal to you the exact numbers of people who are committing crimes."

Toronto routinely collects data on criminal activity — and the force is no stranger to allegations of racial profiling — but Deputy Chief Tony Warr is adamant that race information is never recorded.

"We don't do racial statistics, we do crime in neighbourhoods and how it's affecting neighbourhoods."

As far as zero-tolerance policies for petty crime, Canadian officers don't have the same discretion as their counterparts in New York City, said Warr.

"In the States, you can arrest for a bylaw offence. It gives the police the power to take someone off the street, even if they're doing something like jumping a turnstyle on a subway."

As far as the civil liberties of those running afoul of the law under such policies, Giuliani was unapologetic.

"I always kept in front of my mind that the most important civil right was safety," he said of his time as mayor.

"You can't exercise the other ones unless you have safety. Government exists to provide safety and domestic tranquillity."

Although currently out of political life, Giuliani hasn't ruled out a U.S. presidential run in 2008.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Canadians about to get ripped off again by the corrupt Canada Post Corp.

Just in time for Christmas — new fuel surcharges
Most major shippers boost fuel levies

A $10 package can cost $11.55 by air


If you're sending a gift package across town or across the country this Christmas, be prepared to shell out a lot more in fuel surcharges to cover the rising cost of truck transportation or air freight.

Most major shippers, including Canada Post, Federal Express and United Parcel Service, add a fuel surcharge to the basic cost of delivery whether the package is going regular post or express service. And with gas prices soaring in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the surcharge is making a noticeable difference this fall.

"We've had a lot of calls from customers about it, just because it's so much higher this year," said Karen Cooper, a spokeswoman for Federal Express Canada.

The parcel-delivery business isn't the only industry passing on higher fuel costs to customers, but, like the airlines, is one of the few that spells out the impact on the customer's receipt in the form of a separate line item. Other industries hide the impact in the overall price of their goods and services or, for competitive reasons, have to absorb the cost internally without passing it on.

The rates are based on the price of gas at the pumps or the spot price of jet fuel and are updated monthly to reflect changes in the marketplace. As a result, rates have been rising rapidly in recent months.

At Federal Express, the surcharge for air deliveries is now 15.5 per cent, up from 13 per cent a month ago and 10.5 per cent in July; for ground transportation, 3.5 per cent, up from 3 per cent a month earlier and 2.5 per cent in July.

That means a package that costs $10 to ship based on weight and size now costs an extra $1.55 by air or 35 cents by truck to cover the fuel surcharge.

United Parcel Service follows a similar formula, though the air surcharge is currently capped at 12.5 per cent. The surcharge for ground transportation is 3.5 per cent, according to the company's website.

Canada Post uses one surcharge whether the package is going by air or ground transportation. In either case, it's currently 7.5 per cent, up from 6.75 per cent a month earlier and 5.25 per cent in July.

The charges are based on gas prices at the pumps nearly two months earlier, which means the impact of the hurricanes in the oil-rich U.S. Gulf of Mexico region are just starting to have an impact on parcel delivery.

Canada Post spokesman John Caines said most customers take the surcharge in stride.

"It's nothing new. We've had them since April 2003."

When gas prices slip, the surcharge goes back down, he added. The pump price is based on the national average reported by M.J. Ervine & Associates, an independent monitor, he said.

No surcharge is placed on basic letter mail, Caines added. You could argue that the price of a stamp is indirectly influenced by the cost of fuel, but, by law, any increase in the price of stamps must not exceed two-thirds of the rate of inflation, he explained.

Inflation is a measure of the cost of a basket of goods and services, which of course includes the cost of gas.

The cost of a Canadian stamp is scheduled to rise a penny to 51 cents next January, Caines said.