'IF YOU WANT TO SCRIBBLE SOMETHING, GO TO THE BALLOT BOX ON VOTING DAY.'
VERNON - A damaged federal election sign making its rounds on social media is just the tip of the iceberg for one North Okanagan-Shuswap party.
Vernon resident Chris Van der Molen walked out of his house Sunday morning to find vandals had painted over the Conservative sign displayed on his property. Instead of taking it down, he put up another sign. It reads: ‘Leave it to a non-Conservative to not bring enough paint to the job done’ and a picture of it has been shared close to 300 times on Facebook.
“I just thought I’d do something creative rather than let them win,” Van der Molen says. “Everyone has the right to show who they want to vote for. It just seems so silly and pointless for someone to do that. If you want to scribble something, go to the ballot box on voting day.”
According to Conservative party’s campaign manager Linda Hawes, it’s not the first damaged sign they’ve dealt with since the writ was dropped.
“We get reports on an almost daily basis of vandalism,” Hawes says.
Between stolen and damaged signs, as well as fuelling costs for the campaign team to drive around reinstall them, the overall loss is about $3,350, she says.
“I’ve been involved in probably ten or more different campaigns, both provincial and federal, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Hawes says.
Damage has run the gamut of inappropriate words and images to shredded and knocked over signage. Mel Arnold, the Conservative candidate for the riding, is disappointed people are expressing their political views this way.
“It’s too bad when we’re in the last two weeks of the election campaign, here we are talking about sign vandalism when there’s much bigger things to talk about,” Arnold says.
The Conservatives might be receiving the most prolific vandalism, but they aren’t the only party in the area being targeted. Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz’s office has also dealt with stolen and damaged signs. Volunteers say around half a dozen large campaign signs were knocked over, including one that appears to have been purposefully driven over by a vehicle. In a couple of places, volunteers say Liberal and NDP signs were damaged while the Conservative sign was left untouched.
Vandalizing campaign signs is illegal and perpetrators could face mischief charges if caught.
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