10/13/2014 08:34 EDT | Updated 12/13/2014 05:59 EST

Mayoral candidates condemn racist vandalism on Ward 2 election signs

Toronto's leading mayoral candidates have condemned the racist vandalism that appeared on city council Ward 2 election signs on Saturday, defacing Munira Abukar's campaign materials. 

Profanities and the words "Go back home" were painted on Abukar's signs. It is the latest incident of racism and intolerance in the run-up to the Oct. 27 election. 

"I think that in some ways there are people that feel like they have been left behind -- that they are angry," said candidate Olivia Chow. "So they take their anger out on people that are visible." 

Chow says she can relate, calling the personal attacks against her relentless. 

"Very hateful comments that deal with my race and me as being a female, including descriptions of body parts that are very disgusting," she said. 

Turning anger into something positive 

Abukar said the vandalism left her disheartened and angry — at first. 

"But it's not matter of being sad. It's a matter of taking anger and applying it positively and saying 'I don't give in to hate. I don't give in to coercion and bullying,'" she told CBC News. 

"I'll pick the sign up and put 10 more where that one was vandalized." 

Candidate Doug Ford said attacks against him are vicious, but added that "Ninety-nine point nine per cent of people, regardless of race or religion, they live beside each other and respect each other, to the exception of a small group."

Abukar is one of 14 candidates in Ward 2 looking to replace Doug Ford and is going up against Rob Ford in the election. 

Candidate John Tory reacted to the vandalism while he was putting up his own campaign signs over the weekend, saying it's not acceptable in politics, or anywhere in the city.

"There are always a few people who harbour these attitudes," he said. "Fortunately in Toronto it's a very, very small group of people." 

Another Ward 2 hopeful, Andray Domise, also had signs damaged. He too vowed to fix them and put more up in their place.