Advertisement

Toronto Liberal MP says politicians need more protection after office vandalized

Liberal MP for Davenport Julie Dzerowicz speaks with reporters about vandalism at her constituency office, Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A Toronto MP says vandalism that defaced the outside of her constituency office is an “attack on democracy.”

Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz, who represents the riding of Davenport, said two people dressed in black approached her constituency office at 1 a.m. on Tuesday and painted a threatening message on the windows.

Photos of the office show red paint dripping around a photo of Dzerowicz in one window and a written message in the other which says “Rahaf is burning Toronto will too.”

Rahaf is a misspelling of Rafah, the city in the Gaza Strip which had been a refuge for more than a million Palestinians fleeing Israeli attacks until Israel launched an offensive there about three weeks ago.

Dzerowicz told reporters Wednesday that she considers the message a threat and also a form of hate speech.

Story continues below advertisement

Hate speech in Canada is defined as hatred toward an identifiable group, according to the Criminal Code. When pushed about her claim of hate speech, Dzerowicz waffled a little.

“So all I’m saying to you right now: it is a threat for us, and that is illegal,” she said.

“Do not threaten your MPs. The other thing is vandalism is illegal. Those are the two statements I can make unequivocally right now. Whether it’s fits the true definition of hate, I can’t answer that right now.”

Dzerowicz added that it has a direct impact on democracy.

“It could only be two people in the riding (that are) trying to do this, but it impacts 99 per cent of the rest of the riding because we can’t serve them,” she told reporters Wednesday.

“This is an attack against our democracy, and we need to do more to stop this.”

She said the Toronto police hate crime unit has visited the office since the incident. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The incident comes as the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip is nearing the eight-month mark, and as tensions escalate over Israel’s assault in Rafah.

A global outcry followed the emergence of gruesome images Sunday showing children injured in airstrikes near the town of Rafah, along with videos of carnage as fires burned in encampments housing displaced Palestinians.

Story continues below advertisement

The conflict has led to large demonstrations across Canada, and inspired a significant increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents, according to police and community groups.

The vandalism at Dzerowicz’s office came three days after a Jewish girls’ elementary school in Toronto was shot at overnight.

Dzerowicz said it is not the first time this has happened to her office.

Other politicians have seen vandalism outside their offices or demonstrations in front of their homes.

London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos’s office was vandalized twice in three weeks last October and November, first with ketchup and then with red paint.

Anti-Israel protesters have also turned up outside the private homes of cabinet ministers including Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Justice Minister Arif Virani.

Sponsored content

AdChoices