NOTE: Some of the language in this story is offensive.
Ottawa police have issued an arrest warrant for a Windsor, Ont. man after anti-Semitic threats were made against a local family doctor.
Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth says she has been the target of anti-Semitic messages and death threats for her work administering COVID-19 vaccines and advocating for public health protections during the pandemic. Threats were amplified after an appearance on TVO’s The Agenda in early September in which she wore a mask while speaking on the air from her Ottawa clinic. Kaplan-Myrth shared a post on her Twitter account shortly after her TV appearance to say her clinic received a phone call containing an anti-Semitic slur.
“The Ottawa police suggested I change my office phone number. Yeah, no,” she said, indicating she reported the call under Bill C-3, which makes it a criminal offence to harass physicians.
In a news release, Ottawa police say a warrant has been issued for Louis Mertzelos, 58, of Windsor, on charges of hate-motivated harassing communications, harassment by repeated communication, mischief, and intimidation of the health service in connection with multiple threats made by phone. Anyone who knows where he is has been asked to call Ottawa police at 613-236-1222.
The charges have not been proven in court.
Kaplan-Myrth said on Twitter Thursday that this is the first time a Canadian is facing a charge under Bill C-3.
“I wasn’t kidding when I said there’s no tolerance for harassment of a physician or anti-Semitic hate (or any form of racism/bigotry). This is about holding hateful, threatening people accountable,” she said.
Kaplan-Myrth has been vocal about her support for COVID-19 protections, including masks and vaccination throughout the pandemic. She has run several “Jabapalooza” clinics, which have administered thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to residents.
The threat under investigation by police is not the only one she has received. Kaplan-Myrth also shared an audio recording of a voicemail she said was from a Toronto area code in which a man can be heard yelling and using misogynistic slurs.
Kaplan-Myrth is also running for a school board trustee position with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in the municipal election on Oct. 24.
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