OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – Spray-painted swastikas, racist rants on transit and posters promoting the alt-right — all have appeared after the surprise election win by Donald Trump. However, these disturbing incidents have not been reported in the US, but here in Canada.
“I think that the election has allowed people who might have been formerly in the shadow to feel emboldened,” explains Director of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto Professor Rinaldo Walcott.
There has been talk of white nationalists being inspired by Trump’s win in the US but many Canadians are disturbed to see an apparent increase in hateful messages in this country.
A swastika was recently sprayed on a rabbi’s door and at a synagogue in Ottawa, a racist tirade was caught on video on transit in Toronto and there were posters hung in East York inviting white people to join the alt-right.
Walcott believes that unless Trump and other leaders speak out against the behaviour, it could escalate. “It’s quite possible that this might not just continue but it might also intensify,” he says. “It will depend on the kind of indication they get from leadership in the USA and even [Conservative leadership hopeful] Kellie Leitch in our own domain on how far the might or might not go.”
Walcott adds it may be easy to stand by and do nothing, but it is up to everyone to help. “We must speak clearly and forcefully against racism, discrimination and bigotry.”
To the Canadian Jewish community: I stand with you. Our government denounces recent acts of anti-Semitism in the strongest terms.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 17, 2016
Should you cover hateful graffiti?
Some of that graffiti you may come across could be racist or hateful, but should you change it to look like something else? Some folks may from, time to time, paint over it or change a racist symbol but police say that gesture of goodwill may not be a great idea.
“We wouldn’t want to encourage the public to do anything that is going to at the end of the day ruin evidence or destroy evidence,” explains Abbotsford Police Constable Ian MacDonald.
Even if it means leaving the spray paint just the way it is. He adds it makes holding those behind the original graffiti responsible, much more difficult.
MacDonald says he’d be more lenient in the case of messages that have been around for a while. “Except, I would encourage you strongly to get permission from the owner of the building or the owner of the wall or wherever you see this kind of graffiti.” He uses a local school as an example of that.