By Corey Lewis
A wave of outrage and disgust has swelled in the wake of two recent hate-related incidents in Vaughan.
Spray-painted swastikas were discovered at two new home developments near Bathurst St. and Rutherford Rd. on April 6.
The symbol was scrawled on a sign advertising the homes on Ilan Ramon Blvd.
The outer walls of a newly constructed home were spray-painted with swastikas on nearby Southvale Rd.
Police suspect the racist graffiti was applied overnight.
“It must be condemned outright by everybody,” Thornhill MP Susan Kadis said Monday. “It’s very important that we have a common front against hate and that we all speak in concert.”
Obscene messages like these hurt not only the targeted groups, but also the community in general, Kadis said.
“Even though it may not be a common occurrence, it’s always considered to be very significant when it takes place,” Ward 5 councillor Alan Shefman said last week. “We have a zero-tolerance policy at the city for this type of stuff.”
Shefman, chair of the city’s Equity and Diversity Committee, said he wants future discussions among city officials regarding measures to combat graffiti and hate-related incidents.
The city will work closely with police and have bylaw officers patrol the area to “keep an eye open”, he added.
“This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our community,” Mayor Linda Jackson said in a statement. “We will do everything necessary to assist York Regional Police in their investigation of these incidents.”
Wendy Lampert, national director of community relations with the Canadian Jewish Congress, characterized the perpetrators as cowards granted anonymity by the cloak of darkness.
“We’re all familiar with this in our communities and sadly it continues to happen,” Lampert said last week. “It’s shocking every time and it goes against Canadian values. This is not who we want to be or who we are.”
In March, the police board renewed a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for a series of hate crimes in 2004.
Those anti-Semitic incidents also occurred in Thornhill.
According to an audit conducted by the League of Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada, the number of anti-Semitic incidents across Canada rose last year by 11.4 percent. However, there was a 4-percent drop in the GTA.
Thirty-eight cases were reported in York Region last year, versus 51 in 2006. Twenty-five of those incidents occurred in Thornhill.