York Regional Police's hate crime bureau is investigating after Liberal Party election signs in Newmarket and Aurora were vandalized with swastikas and the word “Nazis.”
Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidates reported Aug. 24 that 10 signs on St. John’s Sideroad and Bayview Avenue were hit by the vandalism, while signs for candidates of other parties were untouched. The Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill Liberals confirmed at least two of their signs were also vandalized on Bayview Avenue and Wellington Street East.
Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidate Tony Van Bynen and Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill candidate Leah Taylor Roy said in a joint statement that they are disturbed and disappointed.
“We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and strongly condemn these vile displays of hatred. Hate in any form has no place in our communities or anywhere in Canada," they said.
York Regional Police said in a news release that investigators believe the incident is hate-motivated and are asking witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.
"York Regional Police does not tolerate hate crime in any form. Those who victimize others based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or mental or physical ability will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," police said.
Candidates from other parties in the riding also condemned the vandalism.
“Very disturbing to see anti-Semitism or any form of hate in this country,” Newmarket-Aurora Conservative candidate Harold Kim said. “This type of hate is not acceptable in any form regardless of which political party you support. I personally, and the Conservative Party, unequivocally denounce this type of behaviour.”
“I was disturbed to find out about the acts of vandalism perpetrated on Tony Van Bynen's signs last night and the hate speech aimed at the Jewish community," Newmarket-Aurora NDP candidate Yvonne Kelly said. “Incidents of anti-Semitism have been on the rise in York Region, and it cannot be tolerated. As a community, we must stand together against all forms of hate and also stand in solidarity with and support of our Jewish neighbours and friends.”
There are reports of anti-Semitic vandalism in other ridings, which Jewish Human Rights organization B’nai Brith Canada is drawing attention to.
“B’nai Brith Canada is alarmed by a noticeable increase in antiSemitic vandalism across the country, seemingly coinciding with the start of the federal election campaign," the organization said in an Aug. 19 news release.
"Unfortunately, these events were not isolated," Van Bynen and Taylor Roy said. "There have been a concerning number of similar incidents throughout the country during this campaign, and we hope Canadians will continue to speak out against hate and intolerance, no matter when and where it occurs."
Anyone with information can contact the York Regional Police #1 District Criminal Investigation Bureau at 1-866-876-5423 ext. 7141, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.