Each Friday, Yahoo! Canada News asks Canadians where they stand on the important issues of the day, and our panel of experts tackle the same question.
This week we asked:
Statistics Canada reports that Canada's homicide rate went up last year for the first time in three years. Do you feel safe?
Thomas Bink: You know what? I probably don't feel terribly safe. During the day, yes, but late at night, there are some pretty creepy areas to every city and it really seems like people are a bit crazier and less restrained than they were years ago. It probably depends on the city, too, but when you're alone at night and walking through some neighbourhoods, it's kind of scary.
Matthew Coutts: I'm not sure if it is just because I work in the news, but I hear about more crime and murder these days than ever before. And the numbers seem to back that up. But I don't often find myself too concerned about it. I manage to get through most days without finding a reason to fear for myself or my loved ones. Of course, I am a somewhat strapping young man who tends to stay away from the darkest of alleys and the seediest of gin joints. So that helps.
Jordan Chittley: I feel as safe as I ever have. I feel quite fortunate to live in an area where I don't see much crime and have been lucky when spending time in high-crime areas that nothing bad has happened to me. As opposed to Tom, I try to look at it more optimistically. While we often hear about major crimes on the news, they actually only affect a very small percentage of the population. And hopefully my loved ones and I continue to be in this large percentage. For work, I have spent time in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside at night and witnessed a lot of crime. It made my heart race, but I just tried to stay smart and stay out of trouble. Because of that, even at those times I felt fairly safe.
[ Last week's POC: In light of the NHL lockout, Is hockey still Canada's national pastime? ]
Bink: Yeah, I don't know. Maybe I'm just paranoid or maybe I've watched too many episodes of COPS, but there is some creepy stuff going on out there. And you don't have to be in a bad neighbourhood to be affected — look what happened in the Eaton Centre, or right on Yonge Street on Boxing Day. There just seem to be more people who feel invincible and are more brazen than ever. I'll grant you that most of the major crimes happen to bad people in bad places but it just seems that it's hitting closer and closer to home every day.
Coutts: Yeah, that's right Tom. The homicide rate is one thing, but the bizarre aspect to crimes these days is what really bothers me. Things like the Magnotta case, or the New York City subway shoving that is making headlines right now. Take all the precautions you can, and there still remains a chance that someone bent on chaos will pick your name out of the proverbial phone book. I live in Toronto, the city with the most murders last year. My family lives in Winnipeg, which had the highest murder rate per capita. But it's the random acts of violence that scare me the most. A little common sense goes a long way toward protecting yourself. The rest is mostly random, and there's nothing we can do about that.
Chittley: Tom makes a good point that the brazen attacks are an area of concern. Shortly after the most recent Eaton Centre shooting, the cops were talking about how gang members are going after their targets, often from rival gangs, in higher-profile areas to gain notoriety. But on the positive side, when I think about the victims, the list of what I believe are innocent victims is relatively low compared to the overall number of murders. There are some incredibly sad and unfortunate events, but compared to the overall population, they don't happen to too many people. Knock on wood.
Bink: OK, maybe I'm just being paranoid. So … either of you guys feel like walking with me to my car?
What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments area below.
Pulse of Canada appears each Wednesday and Friday
on Yahoo! Canada News.