Most parties in P.E.I. byelection face sign vandalism

Most of the parties vying for a seat in the provincial byelection in District 11 say their campaign signs face vandalism.

'This is part of the reality sometimes of campaigns'

Signs from most of the campaigns have faced some damage, candidates say. (Krystalle Ramlakhn/CBC)

Most of the parties vying for a seat in the provincial byelection in Charlottetown's District 11 say their campaign signs face vandalism.

Monday, PC candidate Melissa Hilton expressed disappointment in how one of her signs was defaced, calling the incident discouraging. Tuesday the other parties noted their signs have also been damaged. 

It's not a great way to express your opinion.— Hannah Bell 

"What it does do is does cost dollars obviously — but it does cost manpower to replace those signs, put them back up or take them down, so again it's disappointing," said NDP candidate Mike Redmond, noting some of his signs have been kicked over. 

Redmond calls the vandalism part of the political landscape and to be expected, but a distraction when "we have real issues to deal with at the door." 

The 2015 election was much worse, Redmond said, when "we had some horrendous things written on our signs, specifically of our female candidates." Women candidates can be more of a target, he believes, because gender balance is lacking in P.E.I. politics. 

"It's hard to deal with," said Liberal candidate Bob Doiron. "I think every candidate deals with that as best they can. You know, we like to have lots of signs out and we like to be open with people and get along with the other candidates as best we can." 

Two large Liberal signs have been defaced, officials said, and about 20 of Doiron's lawn signs have gone missing due to either weather of theft. 

'Challenging to keep morale up'

The PC Party notes around 30 of Hilton's signs have been damaged — many of the wooden stakes that go in the ground have been broken. 

The candidates for District 11, left to right, Bob Doiron, Melissa Hilton, Mike Redmond and Hannah Bell. (Liberal Party of P.E.I./P.E.I. PC Party/NDP P.E.I./Green Party of P.E.I.)

"Volunteers actually go out and get the money for this campaign so it's really disheartening to know that there isn't the respect out there for the candidate signs," Hilton said. "It's quite an expense."  

Green Party candidate Hannah Bell said she hasn't spotted any major damage. Most of her smaller signs are on private property, which may discourage vandalism, she said.

"It's challenging to keep morale up if you feel people aren't appreciating your message," said Bell, noting campaign signs  account for much of her budget.

"This is part of the reality sometimes of campaigns," Bell said. "It's not a great way to express your opinion."

Elections P.E.I. has not received any formal complaints, and officials said if it does, it would pass it on to police to investigate. 

The byelection will be held next Monday, Nov. 27.