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Vandals who attempted to intimidate Victoria's mayor have the wrong target

They came under the cover of darkness with mischief in mind.

They snuck around a modest bungalow on a quiet street. The intruders targeted a home in a middle-class area of Victoria known as Oaklands, where the lawns are tidy and the neighbours friendly.

They spray-painted a number on a brown aluminum door. They went to the north side of the house to paint two letters.

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On the car in the driveway, they spray-painted four letters in red.

They smashed the right rear passenger window. Glass spilled onto a child's booster seat, showering a small stuffed pink pig.

No one heard a thing.

As far as is known, they took nothing - other than, briefly, a neighbourhood's sense of well-being.

Sleeping inside the home were two young girls and their parents, Donna Sanford and Dean Fortin, the city's mayor.

"The family's quite resilient. We're upbeat," Mr. Fortin said on Sunday afternoon. "As mayor, I've just got to keep on doing the work we do."

He had a busy weekend with a fundraising dinner on Saturday night, followed by a coaching session with his nine-year-old daughter's basketball team on Sunday afternoon. There were leaves to be raked and compost to be spread.

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The family car had to be taken to the shop and the graffiti had to be painted over.

Self-proclaimed militants issued a communiqué claiming credit. It is a document of childish invective and witless sloganeering about it being "time to take the fight directly to the pig politicians and give them a taste of their own medicine."

The mayor is called "fatcat Fortin" and a fascist.

Here's a history lesson for homeless-by-choice political activists - attacking a family home under cover of darkness was a tactic favoured by fascist street thugs 70 years ago.

Here's another history lesson. The vandalism occurred on the morning of Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated on these shores by armchair revolutionaries who romanticize a martyred would-be assassin without acknowledging his anti-revolutionary goal to bring a Catholic to the British throne.

The language of the communiqué echoes the insults in the Front de Liberation du Québec manifesto read on-air during the October Crisis 40 years ago. Could one of the culprits have watched a documentary on those events?

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To top it off, the militants conjured a name for themselves as PG 72, which was spray-painted on the Fortin residence. PG stands for Pandora Green, a lawn-covered traffic island downtown where overnight sleeping and camping was restricted in a recent bylaw. Seventy-two represents shelter beds recently lost.

Even the militants' numbers are wrong. The loss of temporary spaces is more than made up by a recent increase in permanent accommodations and in the availability of shelter mats under an extreme weather protocol.

Those who work most closely with the homeless condemned the attack. Rev. Al Tysick called it disturbing and based on misinformation. The Victoria Cool Aid Society called the mayor "one of the best friends" of the poor and homeless, adding that "we ask citizens not to lose faith because of the misguided actions of a few."

The mayor will not comment on the language in the communiqué. The Victoria police said it is considered threatening and is being investigated.

The communiqué includes the mayor's address.

It is not hard to find. He is listed in the telephone directory.

The home addresses of the 11 candidates running for a city council seat in a by-election later this month are included in city advertisements. Victoria is that kind of place, and the mayor vows not to change it.

"We should be accessible," he said.

His first official act of business after discovering the vandalism was a two-hour open-door session at City Hall in which any citizen can claim 10 minutes of his time.

The mayor has received calls from MLAs on both sides of the legislature. City councillors offered him and his family a place to stay this weekend. The local community centre dropped off flowers and a potted plant.

A neighbour dropped by and swept up the glass in the driveway.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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