Toronto Police today announced they have arrested a man as part of a hate-motivated mischief and criminal harassment investigation of an incident at a Toronto construction site.
Jason Lahay, 34, of Toronto, was arrested on Friday. He has been charged with one count of mischief to interrupt property over $5000 and three counts of criminal harassment. Toronto police said the arrested man was a trades worker but would not specify his trade.
He is scheduled to appear at College Park Courts on Jan. 13, 2021.
The arrest was in relation to an incident that occurred in June. On June 10, police responded to a radio call in the Coxwell Avenue and Sammon Avenue area.
It is alleged that workers assigned to the Michael Garron Hospital project, a closed construction site that is not accessible to the general public, arrived at work to find two nooses located on their construction equipment.
Toronto Police set up a task force as part of its Hate Crime program and as a result of the investigation, the suspect was arrested.
Constable Caroline de Kloet indicated there were at least two other noose incidents subsequent to the June 10 incident but de Kloet said the charges are only in relation to that June event.
“There is no evidence that he is responsible for the other ones,” she said.
The police statement noted, “The wilful promotion of hatred and advocating genocide are hate propaganda (hate speech) offences which require the attorney general’s consent. Members of the Hate Crime Unit will provide assistance and support to the divisional investigators in seeking the Attorney General’s consent to lay these charges, if applicable. These charges are often laid at a later time.”
EllisDon, the contractor at the Garron site, said at the time it concluded the actions were racially motivated.
Geoff Smith, president and CEO of EllisDon, issued a statement following the arrest.
“EllisDon wishes to thank everyone who has worked so hard to bring this matter, hopefully, to a close. We also wish to thank the victims specifically, everyone working on this project, the Michael Garron Hospital staff and the local community for their patience and for supporting each other during these difficult months,” said Smith.
He added that a great deal more work needs to be done to eliminate hate crimes and the “existing systemic racism” within the construction industry and in Canada.
“Our work is not over, it has just begun,” he said.
The Daily Commercial News will have more to come.
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