More than a dozen election signs around Red Deer have been defaced by sprayed obscenities and punch marks, causing candidates on both sides of the political spectrum to call for more civility.
Eight of the larger trashed signs were re-election placards for Red Deer North’s New Democrat incumbent Kim Schreiner.
“What upsets me the most is the profanities that were left behind for Red Deer children to see on their way to school in the morning,” said Schreiner.
One of her large signs was spray painted with “F—k Trudeau,” referring to Canada’s Liberal prime minister, as well as a circle and slash through the name of Alberta New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley.
Schreiner believes this points to followers of United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney: “It reflects Jason’s rhetoric where he speaks against Trudeau all the time… It’s unfortunate because this is clearly not democracy.”
Her campaign manager, Bill Moore-Kilgannon, also feels the culprits are Kenney followers. He said the UCP leader continually brings up the “friendship” between Notley and Trudeau, to associate the provincial New Democrats with the federal Liberals.
If UCP supporters are doing the damage, Red Deer North’s United Conservative Party candidate Adriana LaGrange said, “it’s not the way to show support for your party.”
She urges frustrated people to take their issues to the ballot box instead.
But LaGrange doesn’t believe her party’s supporters are behind the vandalism, as two of her large signs were also ruined — one was punched through and the other had a moustache drawn on her photo. Some smaller signs were pushed over on people’s lawns.
“I think certain people — vandals — do it whenever there’s an election,” she added. “This reflects very poorly on what these people think of the democratic process.”
Moore-Kilgannon said he reported the vandalism to Schreiner’s signs along Taylor Drive and around Parkland Mall to the RCMP, who are investigating.
Tire treads from a large pickup truck can be seen at one of the vandalism sites, indicating that someone had to stand on the truck bed to do the spray painting, he noted.
Replacing destroyed election signs is not just a matter of cost — Moore-Kilgannon said the vandalism also disrespects the time it took for volunteers to build these signs and install them around the constituency.
Const. Derek Turner of Red Deer RCMP said anyone who witnesses election sign vandalism should call police. The signs are private property and defacing them is a crime, he stressed.
Suspects can be charged with mischief, which can lead to a fine or jail time.