Liberal supporters' car tires slashed in two ridings
Police are investigating complaints that Liberal party supporters with campaign signs on their lawns are being targeted by vandals in downtown Toronto.
Authorities released a grainy image of a suspect who was captured on a security camera in the St. Paul's riding on Thursday evening. The suspect is described as a white male wearing a dark leather jacket, blue pants and a white baseball cap.
On Saturday, Liberal supporters in Toronto's Trinity-Spadina riding say they woke up to more signs of vandalism, the second reporting of acts in as many days.
Residents at homes displaying signs supporting Liberal candidate Christine Innes had their tires slashes overnight in areas north of College Street, between Ossington Avenue and Avenue Road.
Police say that six vehicles were targeted in the Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street area, between 8:00 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday evening.
Julia Metus, the president of the Trinity-Spadina Federal Liberal Association, said as of Saturday afternoon, calls reporting similar incidents continued to come into her office.
Innes visited the homes where vehicles had been vandalized in the Trinity-Spadina riding Saturday morning and said in a statement she was "appalled by the increasing level of intimidation that (she has) seen in this campaign."
She said the vandalism is an attack on democracy and that campaigns should instead be focused on key issues such as the economy.
"Despite the intimidation, these voters are more determined than ever to have their democratic expression heard," she said.
Sgt. Laurie Jackson said Toronto police are investigating the incidents of vandalism in Trinity-Spadina, and are not releasing any further details at this time.
Police say that in the St. Paul's riding, 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.
About 80 per cent of the homes targeted were displaying lawn signs promoting Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal incumbent in the St. Paul's riding.
Paul Allan, a resident who is supporting Bennett in the riding, said he is convinced that his tires were flattened for political reasons. "I really do feel it is something a little bit more sinister. Not conspiracy, mind you, but definitely a little bit more sinister than the average prank," he said.
Jeff Sadlier, another resident in the riding, said "When something like this happens, it's always a bit surprising and disconcerting. The fact that people are roaming around in the evening doing this kind of thing is concerning."
James Olin's car was also targeted, even though he isn't a resident of the area, but visiting from the United States. "It's going to cost me close to $800 or $900. Those tires are about $200 a piece," he said.
Lynne Steele, an official for the Bennett campaign, says that four more cars were hit overnight in the same area. She said the Liberal campaign isn't pointing fingers because they simply don't know who slashed the car tires.
Maureen Harquail, the Conservative candidate for the St. Paul's riding, said the acts of vandalism are "horrible."
"We do not condone this at all; it's unacceptable. It's not my kind of politics, it's not my kind of campaign," she said.
William Molls, the NDP candidate for the St. Paul's riding, said the acts were deplorable and that residents should rise above that kind of behaviour.
Josh Matlow, the city councillor for Ward 22, has suggested that residents in the St. Paul's riding park their vehicles on the street overnight until 8 a.m. until May 2, to avoid further acts of vandalism.
He said that if a car is ticketed, his office will cover the cost.
This isn't the first time Liberal supporters in St. Paul's have seen 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.
Bennett's campaign officials said that the vandalism has actually led some of the homeowners who were targeted to ask for even bigger campaign signs.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact police at 53 Division at 416-808-5300 for the St. Paul's riding, 14 Division for Trinity-Spadina at 416-808-1400 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222 TIPS (8477) or online at www.222tips.com.
With files from CTV Toronto's John Musselman.