|A war memorial in Toronto's Coronation Park was vandalized with black spray paint. City worker Margaret O'brien sprays the words with a chemical to remove them. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)
TORONTO — Canada is toughening criminal laws to protect war memorials and cenotaphs, a Conservative MP from Mississauga says.
While it has yet to receive royal assent, a private member's bill won approval in the House of Commons that will impose minimum fines for defacing a war memorial or cenotaph.
Eve Adams, the parliamentary secretary to Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, visited Coronation Park's war memorial Tuesday to drive home the message to vandals that desecrating tributes to Canada's warriors will not be tolerated.
The park's memorial was defaced on Sunday by a vandal who wrote "Canada will burn” and “Praise Allah" in permanent black marker.
"It's still very obvious where the vandalism took place," Adams said. "Canadians across Ontario are just outraged at the desecration that took place."
The new bill would bring in minimum sentences for people that desecrate a war monument. A first offence would mean a minimum fine of no less than $1,000, Adams said.
City crews cleaned up the graffiti Sunday night and Monday morning.
Toronto Police Services Det. Anthony Williams said they are investigating tips received from the public, but, so far, no suspects have been identified. Investigators are also looking at a nearby sign that was defaced with the words "Holy Jihad" in black marker.
"The width of the letter of the marker tip is similar, but (the memorial) was cleaned up as soon as possible as per our procedure, because we don't want to offend people for a period of time," Williams said. "Under normal circumstances, we would take that sign down and place it beside the other one."
The Muslim Canadian Congress expressed anger at the desecration of the war memorial and at two Muslim students attending York University who chanted obscenities during the Remembrance Day ceremony at Old City Hall.