An Ontario mayor says the savage beating of a black Toronto man earlier this week has racial overtones.

Mayor Ruth Lovell said Friday that racism played a role in the Tuesday night attack of a 42-year-old man in the tourist city of Owen Sound, Ontario. Police have not released his identity.

Police said a female mistook the 42-year-old victim for another man and began verbally and physically assaulting him. She then summoned a group of men who punched, kicked, and then struck the man with a wooden board before stabbing him in the chest.

Lovell says the group made racially inflammatory remarks while they beat him.

Police say the man's injuries are almost life-threatening. He is still in hospital.

Police are investigating whether race played a role in the incident.