'Extremely unfortunate': Perth-Wellington candidates hit with election sign vandalism, theft
Chase Banger and Heather Senoran, CTV Kitchener
Published Tuesday, October 15, 2019 5:01PM EDT
PALMERSTON – The riding of Perth-Wellington may look a little light on election signs this year, but candidates there say that's not on purpose.
Pirie Mitchell is the Liberal candidate for Perth-Wellington. His campaign manager says hundreds of his signs have been stolen or destroyed in a number of towns in the riding.
Palmerston was the city hardest hit, with more than 50 signs reported as defaced or stolen.
Mitchell's supporters took photos of signs scattered near Conestoga Lake back in September.
They say it's also happening in Stratford, Mount Forest, Arthur and Harriston.
"I think it's been a huge distraction to the campaign. It's extremely unfortunately that someone feels like they have to go to this sort of length for whatever reason that they're doing it," explains campaign manager Brendan Knight.
"Of course it affects our supporters and voters who have given money or especially their time to the campaign to have to go out and repair the signs or hear about them being damaged or missing."
Mitchell's signs aren't the only ones that have gone missing.
Incumbent Conservative candidate John Nader's campaign managers say they've seen an uptick too, but that it's not exactly surprising.
"As we saw in the last campaign, a significant number of our signs have been stolen or damaged as well. This is unfortunately something we've come to expect," Warren Howard and Allyson Cardiff say in a statement.
"But we think voters are much more concerned about the issues affecting their lives, and which candidate is best able to address them. Our focus is on reaching every voter in every corner of our riding."
The Green Party's candidate, Collan Simmons, says the party has seen some sign damage, but says it's "a shame that someone is trying to interfere with the political process, rather than voice their opinions to the candidates through the regular means."
He says he'd like to limit signs to only those ordered by voters, effectively eliminating roadside signs altogether.
Geoffrey Krauter is running for the NDP. His campaign manager says they've also experienced some theft and damage, but say it's been minimal.
"We definitely feel for the Liberal campaign, signs are expensive and we all depend on the donations of our supporters to help pay for them," campaign manager Emma Dinicol tells CTV. "Theft or vandalism of election signs is a crime and should be taken seriously."
Elections Canada says it is aware of vandalism during every election period and says that anyone who sees an incident of vandalism on election signs can report it to the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Police say they're investigating the incidents.