The odd vandalism to a political sign isn’t unheard of during an election but a recent wave of incidents is troubling some Wellington-Halton Hills candidates and campaign managers.
Liberal candidate Melanie Lang and her campaign manager Frank Tersigni have confirmed an unusual number of signs have been either stolen, spray painted, set on fire or otherwise damaged.
Videos of the incidents are even showing up on TikTok with one viewed by EloraFergusToday featured a person driving down an undetermined road in Wellington-Halton Hills running over a Melanie Lang sign while yelling “f*** you Trudeau.”
Tersigni said in a phone call he has worked on more campaigns than he can count but the scale of vandalism is “at a different and more frightening level.” He said in a follow-up email over 70 large signs had been targeted across the riding.
It’s to the point where Lang confirmed in a Tuesday morning interview she filed a police report.
She agreed with Tersigni that the scale, rate and apparent rage of the incidents was not something she was expecting.
“It’s not just one person in one area of the riding, this is across the riding,” Lang said.
“It’s also not just somebody picking it up and throwing it down, that sort of stuff, I’ve had signs set on fire, they’ve been sliced and spray painted.”
Lang alleged the vandalism appears like an organized attack and not done by those with a passing opportunity.
“It’s not a random here and there, it’s like an entire area overnight,” Lang said.
Although this is Lang’s first run, she said she has heard from experienced women Liberal candidates who are surprised by the level of the vandalism and noted this election seems to be eliciting an angrier response than previous ones.
She said vulgar comments have even been directed toward those putting up her signs, including her own children who volunteered.
“For my kids to get sworn at by passing motorists, as they’re putting up their mother’s sign, that’s not okay,” Lang said.
Syl Carle, People’s Party of Canada candidate for the riding, said in an email he has noticed a lot more sign vandalism this election.
In the email, he reported vandalism occurring against his signs and Lang’s in Centre Wellington.
“It is truly disappointing that there are members of our community that are being disrespectful of Canada’s democracy by destroying political signage,” Carle said, adding it is sad to see this kind of violent expression.
“No matter what political party you support, the other voices in the electoral conversation deserve and need to be heard to enhance our democracy. Destruction of signage is very un-Canadian and an attack on our democratic values and freedom.”
Jim Smith, campaign manager for Michael Chong, said in an email they have had some sign destruction but nothing out of the ordinary from past elections.
Bronwen Jones of Ran Zhu’s Green Party campaign said they haven’t received reports of their signs being vandalized but are concerned about the safety and security of everyone involved in these campaigns.
Lang said she filed a police report because it is ultimately a crime and somebody needs to be held accountable for these actions.
She stressed she knows this is not representative of the people in the riding and her pride in the people of the area is why she put her name forward.
“These are daily acts of destruction, attempted intimidation, and this should not be allowed to continue,” Lang said.