In the time leading up to an election, it’s normal to see political signs just about everywhere you go. It’s that time in Bonnyville and some candidates signs have been vandalized, stepped on and removed which could have repercussions for the persons responsible.
Elections Canada has no jurisdiction to deal with signs that are destroyed, removed or stolen. However, the candidate may do the following:
- Notify local police, as destruction of private property is a criminal offence; and/or
- Send a complaint in writing to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, which is responsible for investigating offences such as the destruction of signs under the Canada Elections Act.
Councillor Chad Colbourne who is seeking re-election says five of his signs were damaged over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I worked really hard to purchase those signs to let voters know I’m seeking re-election,” Colbourne said. “I appreciate them being left untampered with.”
Other candidates running in the Town of Bonnyville election have experienced similar frustrations as Colbourne but wished to remain off the record.
What are the rules for election signs on public property?
Section 325 of the Canada Elections Act states that, during an election period, no one may interfere with the transmission of election advertising such as a campaign sign.
- Government agencies may remove signs that do not respect federal or provincial laws and municipal by-laws after informing the person who authorized the posting of the sign that they plan to remove it.
- If the sign is a safety hazard, government agencies may remove it without informing the person who authorized the posting of the sign.
- Returning officers and other election officers may remove signs from public property where a polling place is located.
If you are not sure whether the sign is on private or public property, check with your municipality or other government agency.
What happens if a sign ends up on your property and you didn’t allow it?
While it’s tempting to simply remove a sign from public property when you see one – especially if it’s not your candidate – it’s usually a better idea to report the suspected violation to authorities rather than take action yourself. However, The Canada Elections Act does not affect the right of private residential property owners to control who enters their property or anything placed on it.
Therefore, if a sign has been placed on your private residential property without your permission, the Canada Elections Act does not prevent you from removing it. You may wish to contact the candidate or registered party whose sign it is to tell them you did not request the sign and to ask them to remove it.
If you are not sure whether the sign is on private or public property, check with the municipality or other government agency.