More cars damaged as election vandalism spreads in Toronto
A criminal investigation is underway following more reports of potentially life-threatening vandalism apparently connected to the federal election campaign in Toronto.
At least 32 incidents have been reported since Saturday, the most serious of which involved car brake lines being cut and homes vandalized with political graffiti. Most of the damage seems to have been done to the cars and homes of Liberal supporters in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's.
By Sunday, Liberal supporters in the riding of Parkdale-High Park were reporting similar incidents.
Police said there was only one connection among all of the cases: all of the victims had signs supporting Liberal candidates on their lawns.
Toronto police say there have been more than 30 reported cases of vandalism — at least 17 involving cars having their brake lines cut.
Insp. Larry Sinclair said Monday he's never seen anything like this before.
"Some incidents that we were investigating, when the officers were on the scene, they actually walked the street and found evidence of brake fluid in other driveways but these people happened to be away for the day or for the weekend, so they're the people that are basically reporting it now," said Sinclair.
Police want anyone in the areas who may have security cameras or video surveillance of their property to call them.
Jennifer Lithgow found her brake lines were cut after buckling her six-year-old daughter into the car. She said "B. Rae Lies" was also spray-painted on her house, which isn't in Liberal candidate Bob Rae's riding.
"I don't know. It's crossed a huge line in my mind, that they would deface my property and do that to my car. Because I back out of my driveway and it's very difficult to see. Cars go very fast and my daughter sits in the back seat," she told CBC News.
"I mean, really. We were lucky, I think."
Lithgow, who lives in St. Paul's, is adamant she won't take down the Liberal sign on her front lawn.
The cars of at least 14 homeowners in the St. Paul's riding either had their brake lines cut or damaged or had the letter "L" keyed into the paint.
Andrew Lane, who works on the campaign for Liberal incumbent Carolyn Bennett, said he had no idea his car was sabotaged until it was too late.
He went through a stop sign, narrowly avoiding being hit by a TTC bus before he brought his car to a halt. The father of two said whoever sabotaged his car willingly put his life and the lives of his children in danger.
Some homes in the riding were sprayed with anti-Liberal graffiti.
Across town in Parkdale-High Park, similar acts of vandalism were reported on Sunday morning: brake lines cut, signs torn down and graffiti spray-painted on walls and garages.
Bennett said supporters who ask for signs will now be given a warning.
"The more it sinks in, the more appalled we are," said Bennett. "I think that we will have to explain to anyone who wants a sign what has happened already."
Bennett says some people have asked for signs to show they can't be intimidated.
But others, like Michael Horn who had his brake lines cut, said Bennett can have her sign back.
"I mean we'll vote for Carolyn Bennett, but I won't keep a sign on our lawn if it means my car will become a target for some criminal."
In a statement released Monday morning, Liberal Leader Stèphane Dion called the acts "hateful and dangerous."
"The cutting of brake lines on people's cars is clearly not a simple mischievous act — it is putting people's lives at risk and raises some very serious questions.
"Everyone — all Canadians and political parties — must speak out against what is happening in Toronto. It is an obscene violation of the principles of democracy, where Canadians are entitled to express their political opinions without repercussion," he said.
Liberal supporters were also victimized in similar incidents during byelections in Guelph in August and in north Toronto, in the Willowdale riding, in March.
With files from the Canadian Press