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Councillor’s social media post appears to endorse hard line for people who refuse homeless supports


It was a simple four word tweet from London, Ont. Ward 4 Councillor Susan Stevenson, saying "London could be first.”

The message included an emoji of a face covered in hearts, but the article it was linked to raised alarms.

It was written by American political commentator and CNN host Michael Smerconish and carried a two-pronged message.

"The intent within the article seemed to be ‘let's get everybody housed and make sure there's wrap around care and that's a shared objective of everybody’,” said former London Councillor Stephen Turner.

The problem, Turner said, is with the second prong in Smerconish's proposal, "The second part of that article mentioned that if somebody isn't willing to accept that help then they should be arrested and detained. That raises a lot of alarms and a lot of red flags; about human rights, about dignity."

The tweet from Stevenson brought a stream of social media responses, some onside with Smerconish's proposal, but many more expressing disdain for the approach and for the indication that Stevenson endorsed that approach.

An undated image of a London, Ont. homeless encampment. (CTV News file photo)

"We need to recognize within the entire community that there's an incredible amount of resource and attention that's being given to homelessness, addictions, and mental health within the City of London and across Canada right now," stressed Turner.

He was a long-time paramedic and is the current manager of Lambton County Emergency Medical Services.

He worries that work currently underway will be undermined by hardline approaches, "Like suggestions that we can just arrest our way out of this, which many police chiefs in London have said we can't do. It's quite clear that we need to have everybody rowing in the same direction."

CTV did reach out to Councillor Stevenson for comment but had not received a response prior to the publication of this article. Top Stories

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