Police investigate vandalism in Liberal riding
Published Friday, April 22, 2011 7:08PM EDT
Police are investigating a spate of overnight vandalism that may have targeted cars parked outside homes displaying Liberal lawn signs in midtown Toronto.
Police said as many as 16 cars were scratched and had tires punctured between 10 and 11 p.m. on Thursday in the areas of Soudan and Hoyle avenues, near Mt. Pleasant Road and Eglinton Avenue East.
Each car was reportedly parked outside homes displaying lawn signs promoting Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal incumbent in the St. Paul's riding.
Police said they were investigating and "following up on the report" that Liberal supporters were being targeted.
They released an image of the suspected vandal, captured on a security camera posted in the area. The suspect is described as a white male wearing a dark leather jacket, blue pants and a white baseball cap.
In a telephone interview, Bennett called the vandalism an attempt to silence the freedom of political expression.
"It is only happening to people with Liberal signs. We are used to picking up our signs in the ravine, but this crosses the line," Bennett told ctvtoronto.ca.
"Hopefully we catch this person, because it is suppression of participating in a democracy."
Bennett says she would understand if supporters take down her lawn signs, adding that personal safety should always come first.
This isn't the first time Liberal supporters in St. Paul's would have suffered such attacks.
At least 25 homes in the riding were targeted during the 2008 federal election, with vandals cutting off phones and cable lines, spray-painting property and cutting brake lines on a number of vehicles.
All the homes had a sign on their front lawn that showed their support for the Liberal party.
Angela Fusco, a Liberal supporter in the riding, was vandalized for the second election in a row, after waking up on Friday to find scratches along the side of her car and the tires deflated.
"Last election it was the brake lines cut. This time they have slashed the tires. Other people have graffiti on the walls," Fusco said in a telephone interview from her home on Soudan Avenue.
On Friday, Conservative candidate Maureen Harquail said her campaign has suffered stolen lawn signs and had nothing to do with sign removal or any vandalism.
"This type of behaviour that damages property has no place in my campaign and no place in my politics," Harquail said. "I want to focus on the issues that we really need to talk about – the economy and jobs and safe communities."
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact police at 53 Division at 416-808-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222 TIPS (8477) or online at www.222tips.com.