A vile, misogynistic slur spray-painted on the campaign office of Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna has led to an outbreak of multi-partisan decency, with everyone from federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to Ontario Premier Doug Ford condemning the vandalism.
“I don’t even have words to describe what kind of person would do this,” said McKenna, who served as federal environment and climate minister for the four years leading up to this week’s election. “It’s the same as the trolls on Twitter. It needs to stop.”
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As the campaign was getting under way last month, McKenna recounted an incident where she and her children were verbally abused by someone in a car while they walked outside a movie theatre, adding that she sometimes travels with a security detail as the social media trolling she’s encountered translates into real-world threats. This week, she responded with a firm “no” when a reporter asked whether the attacks had her second-guessing her decision to enter politics.
“Some people clearly want to chase women out of politics—that’s not going to make politics any better,” she said. After a “very negative and divisive” campaign, in which she won re-election by more than 15,000 votes, she added that the graffiti incident would just “make me recommit to making it a better place for women [and] for diversity of all sorts.”
“This is absolutely disgraceful,” Singh tweeted in response to the attack. “No woman should have to deal with this in politics, or in any space. Thank you Catherine for your courage in the face of this violent, sexist act of hate. We stand with you.”
“Disgusting. There is no place in Canada for hate like this,” Ford added. “While we may disagree on matters, we must always respect one another.”
“When was the last time you saw an image of an influential man working peacefully in public service be defaced with such indignity?” tweeted Climate Action Network-Canada Executive Director Catherine Abreu, with photos of the spray paint on McKenna’s office and a defaced mural of #FridaysforFuture founder Greta Thunberg. “Indigenous women keep telling us that violence against Mother Earth and violence against women go hand in hand….do better, people.”
“It’s horrible. Words can’t express how angry I feel that someone would do this,” said Ottawa City Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, the city’s special liaison on women’s issues, who said the graffiti should be treated as a hate crime.
“We can’t let it go,” she told CBC. “We have to make an example of it and come out strongly that this is unacceptable.”
Ottawa police said the graffiti would be considered a case of mischief unless they found corroborating evidence of a hate crime.
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