A Liberal candidate in Ontario says his car was vandalized with an anti-Liberal message while he and his family slept on Saturday night.
Chris Bittle, who is running for re-election in his St. Catharines riding, said on Twitter that he woke up this morning to find his car spray-painted with the message “FU LIBERALS.”
“Last night, while my family and I were sleeping someone came onto my property to vandalize my car. This was clearly an attempt to intimidate me and my campaign,” Bittle wrote.
“I am disheartened to see this, but I know this isn’t who we are as a community. Whomever this individual is, I have a message back: I will not be intimidated and I will continue to fight for St. Catharines.”
1/2 Last night, while my family and I were sleeping someone came onto my property to vandalize my car.
This was clearly an attempt to intimidate me and my campaign.
I am disheartened to see this, but I know this isn’t who we are as a community. pic.twitter.com/5UuAv4lc5u
— Chris Bittle (@Chris_Bittle) September 12, 2021
Bittle reiterated the sentiment in a statement sent to Global News about the incident.
“This is not going to stop me or my campaign. I will not let the actions of these individuals characterize what I know to be a great city. I will always fight for St. Catharines and stand up for the best interests of our community,” he said.
It’s the latest in a series of acts of vandalism to occur during the 2021 election campaign.
Liberal candidate Anthony Housefather has had dozens of his posters defaced with anti-semitic imagery, including swastikas. His fellow Montreal Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan, who is also Jewish, has found similarly hateful vandalism on her signage.
Toronto police are also investigating defaced Liberal Party signs for Etobicoke Centre candidate Yvan Baker, calling it a “suspected hate crime.”
The vandalism isn’t only affecting those in the Liberal Party. Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre recently posted a video on Twitter that showed a man in the process of spray-painting on one of his signs.
If anyone can identify this man, call the Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222 ext 7300 pic.twitter.com/CMDfsHH1M2
— pierrepoilievre (@PierrePoilievre) September 10, 2021
The Conservative candidate in the St. Catharines riding took to Facebook to express her concern for Bittle following the incident.
“Last night, my political opponent’s car was vandalized in his driveway. I hope whoever is responsible is held accountable. We live in a democracy where we can disagree openly and respectfully,” wrote Krystina Waler.
“There are platforms to do that. Targeted vandalism, endangering family and volunteers of those you don’t agree with politically is never, ever acceptable. Chris Bittle I am glad your family is ok but let this serve as a call to action for all of us to stand united against this targeted attack. Im sickened.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also criticized the incident, calling it “another example of the anger and hate that seems to be growing.”
“This election is about helping people — about who you trust to fight for you and your family,” Singh tweeted Sunday afternoon.
“Hateful spray paint won’t help us build the better world we know is possible.”
It’s hard to see another example of the anger and hate that seems to be growing.
This election is about helping people – about who you trust to fight for you and your family.
Hateful spray paint won’t help us build the better world we know is possible. https://t.co/Mc2KGFqMtj
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) September 12, 2021
Party leaders have been outspoken about acts of anger and aggression throughout the campaign.
Singh had a racist remark hurled at him while campaigning in Windsor, Ont., in late August. As the NDP leader campaigned in a park, a man shouted “go back home” from a passing vehicle.
Singh, who was born in Scarborough, Ont., and raised in Windsor, continued his speech undeterred.
Speaking to reporters in a later news conference, Singh says he doesn’t “focus on himself” when that kind of thing happens — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t concerning.
“I do think about the rise of hate that a lot of people have to face,” he said.
As he learned of the defacing of Liberal signs in Montreal in August, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also spoke up, saying he was “disgusted” and “angry.”
“It is completely unacceptable. I stand in solidarity with Rachel and Anthony, and the entire Jewish community, against this type of hatred, he wrote in a tweet.
Trudeau himself has been dogged by mobs of angry protestors throughout his campaign. One of those protests grew especially heated as Trudeau left an event in London, Ont., on Labour Day. As protesters jeered Trudeau, who was flanked by media, a man picked up gravel and threw it at both Trudeau and the journalists.
While no injuries were reported, Shane Marshall, 25, was charged with one count of assault with a weapon. Marshall was the president of the PPC Elgin Middlesex London riding association. He was removed from his position after the incident.
Trudeau spoke out against the angry protestors on Tuesday, insisting that “anti-vaxxer mobs” would not stop him from campaigning in person this election.
“Nobody should be doing their jobs under the threats of violence or acts to put them in danger. That’s absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also weighed in after the gravel-throwing incident.
“This is disgusting and I condemn these actions in the strongest terms possible,” he said.
“Political violence is never justified and our media must be free from intimidation, harassment and violence.”
— With files from The Canadian Press, Global News’ Sawyer Bogdan
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.