Cops investigating threats against Niagara’s medical officer of health

Alleged threats condemned by political leaders

Niagara police are looking into threats posted to social media against Dr. Mustafa Hirji, the region’s acting medical officer of health.

The alleged threats were made on Friday when the Ford government announced the stay-at-home orders for most of Ontario would be lifted on Feb. 16.

Niagara was the only region to get a grey-lockdown designation, which will allow businesses to open at 25 per cent capacity.

The rest of the regions, except for Peel, York, Toronto and North Bay/Parry Sound District, fall into the other colour codes, which places various restrictions on gatherings and businesses.

“We are aware of the social media posts in reference to Dr. (Mustafa) Hirji (Niagara’s medical officer of health) that have been reported in the media,” according to a tweet by Niagara police. “We will not be commenting any further at this time regarding that investigation.”

The threats were condemned by Premier Ford on Saturday.

“There is absolutely no place for these kinds of threats in Ontario. Cut it out,” the premier tweeted.

“Our health officials have only one priority: the health and well-being of their communities. We’re lucky to have such dedicated public health officials in Ontario.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added his voice, tweeting, “This rhetoric is unacceptable, and I strongly condemn it.”

The Ontario Medical Association released a statement that said death threats and all forms of violence must not be tolerated.

“We have seen where hatred takes us,” the OMA said. “For more than a year, Ontario’s doctors and public health officers have made enormous sacrifices, taken serious risks and worked around the clock to keep Ontarians safe.”

“Let’s not lose sight of our responsibility to take care of each other.”

Jim Bradley, Niagara Regional Chair, and St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik also issued statements condemning the alleged threats.

Dr. Hirji urged people do more listening, tweeting, “#InThisTogether has been a slogan of the pandemic. I hope we can all return to that ethos. Violent threats, political attacks, denigrating those who disagree splinters us rather than unifies us. Let’s listen more, understand each other, & come together through dialogue.”