It’s a sign of the times — it’s election season.
Along with melting snow, campaign signs are springing up before flowers have the chance to bud, let alone bloom in Calgary ahead of this spring’s election.
But with all of the orange, blue, other blue, red and green signs comes another trend: vandalism, graffiti and sometimes hateful displays against the candidates running.
The most recent example is UCP candidate Jasraj Singh Hallan, who is running in the Calgary-McCall riding. On Tuesday, in a Facebook post, he said over the last two days he’s had four large street signs and 36 lawn signs vandalized.
“I write this with a heavy heart to share that our signs are being vandalized daily,” read his post. “We are trying to get footage from a home camera that might help identify the people behind this.”
Hallan said campaign signs are paid for by generous donations, people’s hard-earned money, and it’s hard to see that go to waste.
But he posted about his sign struggles in hopes that he could spread a more positive message about politics to a future generation.
“These are some of the things that we hope that can change,” he said.
Last week, candidate Joanne Gui, running for the Alberta party in Calgary-Edgemont, had racist graffiti spray painted on one of her signs. Calgary Police say they are investigating this as a hate crime, but that’s the only report of sign vandalism it has received so far.
Others, like the NDP’s Deborah Drever in Calgary-Bow, and Alberta Party’s Gar Gar in Calgary-East have also come out to say they’ve experienced campaign sign vandalism on social media.
And it’s not just a Calgary phenomenon.
In Red Deer North, Cole Kander, who ran for nomination and is a UCP party member said his friend sent him a picture of Kim Schreiner’s campaign sign.
The orange placard had been sprayed with black paint — and a profanity Kander didn’t want to repeat.
“I thought that I might be running against her,” Kander said. “So the last thing I would ever want my campaign or anyone in Red Deer to do would be to pull something like that. I think we need to win fair and square and we can’t, we can’t stoop to the NDP level of fear and smear.”
Instead, he decided to make a $25 donation Schreiner’s campaign — which, he says is about as much as it would cost to replace the defaced sign.
Some vandalism motivated by race, gender, hate of candidate or party
“We need to take the high road and just go out and vote,” he said.
Mount Royal University Political Scientist Duane Bratt says veteran politicians shouldn’t be surprised if their signs are ripped, moved, defaced or disappear completely during the campaign.
“Some of the defacing is motivated by hatred of the candidate hatred of the party,” he said. “There could be racial or gender overtones, or ideological overtones.”
He said it could be teenagers using the signs as easy canvas, or it could be political supporters or parties themselves doing the deed.
“And every party is convinced that they’re the ones being targeted more than anybody else,” said Bratt.