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Friday, October 05, 2007

Mayor of Georgina has denounced recent attacks on Asian Canadian fishermen

The mayor of Georgina has denounced recent attacks on Asian Canadian fishermen, as well as anti-Semitic and homophobic vandalism, and has apologized on behalf of his community.

"The people that I have the privilege of representing are shamed and embarrassed that this would have happened in our community," Robert Grossi said yesterday after meeting with leaders of B'nai Brith Canada and the Chinese Canadian National Council.

Grossi's comments came after swastikas and anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs were painted on nine vehicles in Keswick, while York Region police investigate a series of attacks on Asian Canadian anglers at Lake Simcoe.

"From what we've heard so far, they're isolated incidents," said the mayor of the lakeshore community of 40,000 north of Toronto.

Grossi was praised for meeting with local faith groups and educators about the attacks.

"We see leadership from the mayor on this," said Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council. "We're quite appreciative of it."

Grossi noted that police are investigating the attacks, and have stepped up patrols around the lake.

"York Regional Police have been very responsive, very respectful."

Immediately after reports of the incidents last week, Grossi's office issued a public statement saying that "broad-stroke painting of our community as a place that is unwelcoming to some groups or nationalities is unjustified."

Yesterday, he said he still considers his community to be tolerant.

"We are a very welcoming community," Grossi said.

In one of the recent incidents, a man was left in a coma after a violent confrontation between anglers and community members.

In other recent incidents, a man and a boy were pushed into the water while fishing.

Two related cases are before the courts, including one involving a high-speed chase that began when youths approached anglers fishing off a pier, and demanded to see their fishing licences.

The youths began shouting racial slurs and then chased the anglers as they fled, ramming their car from behind with a pickup truck.

Meanwhile, in the town of Westport on Big Rideau Lake, police are investigating at least two incidents in which locals have allegedly attacked Asian-Canadian anglers in the past two months.

In one incident, a man who was fishing with his 73-year-old father-in-law on a bridge at midnight was beaten up and thrown off the bridge by a group of young men.

In another incident, men wielding baseball bats and an axe forced some Asian-Canadians to give up their fishing spot on a local bridge.

In both cases, the victims were said to be from Toronto.

Residents of this hamlet say while they are fed up with people poaching fish from local reservoirs, they deny the incidents have anything to do with racism.

"People are really angry and I'm afraid sooner or later someone is going to get seriously hurt," said Charlie Jones, who heads a local group of conservationists.

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