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An RCMP officer removes protesters, who were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, from a hotel ballroom in Ottawa where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to participate in a Liberal Party fundraising event, on Nov. 21. The Prime Minister was not in the room when several protesters entered.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Police are facing calls to enforce more strictly Canada’s harassment and intimidation laws after four MPs’ offices, including that of the Prime Minister, were vandalized last week and some MPs, citing safety concerns, closed their constituency offices Monday to avoid pro-Palestinian protests.

Montreal police are investigating the vandalism last Tuesday of the constituency offices of Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and MPs Anthony Housefather and Rachel Bendayan, both of whom are Jewish.

Posters were plastered with glue all over the outside of their offices, including some accusing the politicians of being “complicit in the deaths of over 20,000 Palestinians.”

Other Liberal and Conservative MPs say they are facing an upsurge in abusive and intimidating calls and e-mails, as well as threats, for expressing views in support of Israel and Jews in Canada.

On Monday, Mental Health Minister Ya’ara Saks closed her constituency office in Toronto after she was informed she was on a list of MPs being targeted by pro-Palestinian protesters planning demonstrations outside 20 MPs’ offices.

Ms. Saks, who is a dual Canadian-Israeli citizen, posted her reaction on Instagram about the planned demonstration. “I’m a public official, so people are free to protest outside my office as much as they like, though I’m quite comfortable in my position of supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and the Jewish community’s safety,” she said.

“However, maintaining a safe work environment for my staff and constituents is paramount. Given what we’ve seen at other protests, my constituency office will unfortunately be closed in person on Monday and staff will work remotely.”

Julie Dabrusin, also on the list of MPs targeted, said she supported and expected peaceful protest, but she would close her office Monday during the demonstration.

“The tone of recent calls and e-mails to my office have been concerning and the safety of my staff and constituents seeking help on federal services is my priority,” she said.

Mr. Housefather, a Liberal MPs, called on police chiefs, mayors and other authorities to “make clear to all officers that police should enforce laws as regards incitement and threats at demonstrations.”

“For the moment it seems to lots of us that this is not happening effectively,” he posted on X Monday.

But Jonathan McPhedran Waitzer, a spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Network, which is organizing the protests outside MPs’ offices, told The Globe and Mail that they would be peaceful, and it was cowardly for MPs to close their offices.

“Shutting down MP offices in the name of ‘safety’ to avoid facing their constituents is cowardly and anti-democratic. Our neighbourhood groups have clearly advertised today’s actions as family-friendly gatherings,” they said.

“We are singing carols, giving out coffee and hot chocolate, and calling on our MPs to do their jobs and represent us. We represent the majority of Canadians, who are calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the senseless killings in Gaza. Our actions are bringing neighbours together, while these MPs push their constituents away.”

The protests targeted 20 mainly Liberal MPs, including ministers Arif Virani, Randy Boissonnault and Patty Hajdu, and former justice minister David Lametti.

A press release announcing the demonstrations said a network is mobilizing voters to withdraw support from the Liberal Party “until the Canadian government takes real action towards an immediate and permanent ceasefire and ends its ongoing military, economic, and political support to Israel.”

It said actions were targeted at over 20 carefully selected, politically vulnerable ridings.

Gerry Almendrades, national director of community security for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said there is a co-ordinated effort to intimidate Canadian public office holders, including MPs.

“This is an assault on democracy,” he said.

He also said that police should be enforcing harassment laws.

Jewish and Muslim communities across Canada have expressed concern that hate-motivated incidents are on the rise as a result of the Israel-Hamas war. Police in many major cities across Canada have increased their presence at protests and religious institutions in response, amid reports of antisemitic and anti-Muslim graffiti, assaults and online hate since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Politicians have been targets of many of these incidents. In October, the London, Ont., office of Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos was vandalized during a pro-Palestinian rally, with his door sprayed with ketchup in October.

B.C Liberal MP Terry Beech’s constituency office was vandalized last month, with the slogan “genocide in Gaza stop now” scrawled in large red letters across the front entrance.

The office of Conservative MP Marty Morantz in Winnipeg, who is Jewish, has also been vandalized.

Last month a Jewish community centre in Montreal was firebombed shortly after MPs Mr. Housefather and Ms. Bendayan had met members of a Jewish community council there to discuss safety and how they could apply for funds for extra security. The firebombing with a Molotov cocktail occurred after a photo of the MPs at the community centre meeting was posted publicly.

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