Election officials are warning people that tampering with election signs can come with serious consequences after a number of signs have been vandalized throughout the province.
The federal election has sprouted party ads of all stripes and colours on lawns, boulevards and roadsides across the country. Some signs have been driven over or even crunched up and thrown into the ditch.
Marie-France Kenny is Regional Media Advisor for Elections Canada. She reminds people that, according to the Canada Election Act, during an election period no one may interfere with the transmission of election advertising, including campaign signs. She notes, removing, destroying or stealing an election campaign sign is a criminal offence.
According to RCMP, these incidents would fall under the Criminal Code – Mischief Under or Over $5000 or Theft Under or Over $5000. If found guilty for Mischief, it is a dual procedure offence which could mean up to two years in prison, or a summary conviction (fine or imprisonment up to 6 months ).
For Theft Over $5,000, it could mean imprisonment up to 10 years or a summary conviction. Theft Under $5,000 could be similar to that of the Mischief punishment.
“The candidate or members of the public who see this can notify local police, as the destruction of private property is a criminal offence. Or they can send a complaint in writing to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, which is totally independent from Elections Canada. They are responsible for investigating offences such as the destruction of signs," explained Kenny.
If a campaign sign is placed on private property without permission, Kenny explains, an owner may contact the candidate involved to have it removed or remove it themselves.
Kenny adds, signs that pose a safety hazard can be removed by local authorities.
“Let's say you put your sign in front of a stop sign and it's dangerous because people won't see the stop sign? Then absolutely, if it's a safety hazard, government agencies, including municipalities can remove [it] without informing the person who authorized the posting of the sign.”