Politics 2.0 – Theft and Vandalism of Election Campaign Signs

Vandalized sign for Conservative Candidate Frank Pullia
Vandalized sign for Conservative Candidate Frank Pullia

THUNDER BAY – POLITICS 2.0 – Since the Writ was dropped on September 11, 2019, many political parties participating in the 43rd General Election scheduled for 21 October 2019 have been either putting out signs on private property with the owner’s consent or have provided signs for the property owner to put in place. While these signs are loaned to the property owner, they remain the property of the candidate.

Recently, all candidates here in Thunder Bay-Superior North have suffered from a high rate of theft or damage of campaign signs, all located on private property. Our Conservative Party Candidate, Frank Pullia has particularly suffered in this regard at a rate much higher than past Conservative candidates. We have seen repeated theft and damage in many locations across the city, even after repeated replacements. These incidents have been reported to the Thunder Bay Police Service.

The Canada Elections Act, Section 325 (1) states that “No person shall prevent or impair the transmission to the public of an election advertising message without the consent of a person in authority to authorize its transmission”.

This means that someone who is caught stealing or damaging a candidate’s sign faces a possible criminal conviction and a criminal record. These kinds of records can result in refusal of employment, and an outright ban on participating in certain occupations and importantly, in our area, an inability to travel to the United States. Perhaps most importantly, it is attempting to circumvent the democratic process and denying individuals their Charter Right of freedom of expression. Finally, it is ecologically unfriendly and results in more waste in the landfill as certain types of signs can be reused or recycled.

The bottom line is that anyone is quite entitled to dislike a political party or parties. That is everyone’s right in Canada. However, people do not have any right to steal or damage property that doesn’t belong to them and accordingly, people should not touch any of the various candidate’s signs. It erodes our democracy, costs the candidates, damages the environment, but of most significance, it might cost the individual doing the act a great deal more.