Authorities “handed down” orders citing recent gang-related shootings.
TORONTO, Canada – -(Ammoland.com)- Two award-winning teenaged sport shooters have been kicked off the stage and can't stand beside their athletic peers during the Ontario Summer Games in August.
Organizers say the Games' specially-appointed Sporting Rifle ambassadors must not not appear during the World Record Camp Games ceremony due to the recent (unrelated) high-profile gun crimes committed in the Toronto area.
Chris Baldwin, 18, and Sabrina Sergeant, 17, both award-winning sport shooters, are proud representatives of the East Elgin Sportsmen's Association and the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) at the Ontario Summer Games.
Games' organizers contacted the CSSA to say the teens are no longer welcome as sporting ambassadors: “Unfortunately, due to the untimely shootings that have taken place in Scarborough and the City recently, we have received a directive that we can no longer have the Sporting Rifle Athlete Ambassadors present on stage at the World Record Camp Games event. This is unfortunately something that has been handed down to us out of our control and we deeply apologize.”
John Evers, president of the East Elgin Sportsmen's Association says the ruling is outrageous.
“We are stunned at the treatment that these two young athletes have received from the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario,” says Evers. “These teens are very disciplined and have refined their craft over many years, and now some faceless anti-gun bureaucrats are associating them with drug dealing, gang member criminals. They were invited to act as ambassadors and they are ideally suited for that job. They are perfect examples of what today’s youth should aspire to be. How can our provincial government be so blind and sink so low?”
Tony Bernardo, executive director the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action (CILA), says the bureaucratic insensitivity is unprecedented.
“Target shooters and hunters are treated like criminals way too often,” says Bernardo, “but this abuse is especially transparent. How can anyone justify pushing these youthful competitors aside because of some very disturbed individuals who live in another world? If a criminal uses a knife to stab somebody, do we take all the celebrity chefs off the air? If someone is murdered with a baseball bat, do we blame the Blue Jays? There is zero common ground between these young sport shooters and the viscous thugs who take part in public shootouts.
“Blaming sport shooters for the demented actions of criminals must end here and now,” adds Bernardo. “It's one thing for the anti-gun faction to mess with us, but now they're messing with our kids. That is something we simply cannot and will not stand for.”
Chris Baldwin is the Overall National Sporting Rifle 3-position champion three years in a row, National Junior prone champion, and second place grand aggregate. He competed in the 2008 and 2010 Ontario Summer Games and won triple gold medals and Provincial Junior Champion in several events. He was a gold and silver air rifle medallist at the 2011 Canada Winter Games and won first place in 2009 at a Youth Olympic Games match held in Colorado Springs against youth from North and South America. When he isn't training to perfect his aim, he can be found outdoors fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.
Sabrina Sergeant began shooting sporting rifle five years ago and won gold and bronze at the 2010 Ontario Summer Games and she enjoys air rifle competition. She and Baldwin are looking forward to competing in this year's events held in St. Catharines on August 17-19, yet they remain confused at having their ambassadorship suddenly withdrawn.
“Sports should be about fairness, the spirit of friendship, and the pursuit of excellence,” explains John Evers. “What are these kids learning from having their special distinction taken away by a bunch of anti-gun organizers? They're being taught that life isn't fair and it's okay to tar everyone with the same brush, however disconnected they might be. The Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto should be deeply ashamed.
“Our organization has been actively shooting for the past 56 years and there has never been so much as a band-aid required,” he adds. “It's the largest junior program in Canada and we average 60 kids from age 10 to 19 every Friday night during the winter. This is how you keep kids out of gangs and off the streets.
“East Elgin recently held an open house where 1,660 visitors enjoyed the shooting sports — and many for the first time,” says Evers. “We went through 108,000 rounds of ammo. Our membership has increased from 200 in 2001 to more than 600 members today. Families come to the range like others head for the pool, the soccer pitch and the hockey rink. Instead of uninviting our youth to take part in the Summer Games, people should open their eyes and see all the things that sport shooters are doing right.”
The CSSA is the voice of the sport shooter and firearms enthusiast in Canada. Our national membership supports and promotes Canada's firearms heritage, traditional target shooting competition, modern action shooting sports, hunting, and archery. We support and sponsor competitions and youth programs that promote these Canadian heritage activities. Website www.cdnshootingsports.org
Please be advised that in regards to this story the decision of the City of Toronto has been reversed. 7/23/2012
The City's formal announcement is:
The World Record Camp Games takes place on July 25, 2012 and is a fun competition which promotes the positive development of children and youth through sport and encourages young people to lead healthier, active lifestyles. It is a City organized and sponsored event, which has attracted more than 200 summer camps from across the province to participate. Each camp hosts sporting events for children enrolled in their camp program.
The World Record Camp Games is an opportunity to promote the 2012 Ontario Summer Games, which the City of Toronto is hosting from August 16 to 19. The City is committed to hosting the best Ontario Summer Games ever.
Given the recent events in the city, City staff made a decision not to have the athlete ambassadors representing sport shooting participate in the on stage welcoming ceremony component of the World Record Camp Games due to the very young audience expected to participate in the event
Upon further reflection, and discussion with the Games Organizing Committee, the City of Toronto regrets the decision that was communicated to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association and supports the participation of all athlete ambassadors in the on stage welcoming ceremony of the World Record Camp Games.
The City of Toronto very much values the participation of all Ontario Summer Games athlete ambassadors in the World Record Camp Games event and looks forward to hosting all athletes representing all 28 sporting events at the 2012 Ontario Summer Games.
Councillor Grimes wishes to thank everyone for their patience as this was sorted out , and looks forward to seeing the athletes at the World Camp Games .
Councillor Mark Grimes' Office
Ward 6, Etobicoke Lakeshore
100 Queen Street West, Suite C48
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Tel: 416-397-9273 Fax: 416-397-9279