The defacing of candidate signs for the federal election is running rampant in Cochrane.
While it's unclear if the vandals are targeting any particular candidate, those of Nadine Wellwood of the People's Party of Canada (PPC) were heavily hit overnight at the traffic circle by the SLS Family Sports Centre. Many were spray-painted with vulgarities, most too graphic to publish.
Liberal candidate David Gamble says he's also being targeted by vandals.
"I continue to have signs going missing in Cochrane," says Gamble in a text message. "Large signs destroyed and now they are being defaced, especially near the Spray Lake rec centre."
Gamble says he's filing a complaint with the RCMP today.
Wellwood says they have had to replace about 100 signs in Cochrane so far this campaign, have not filed any complaints, and simply gone about replacing them.
This morning, it was the RCMP who contacted them to advise they had placed particularly vulgar signs face down.
"We got the phone call from the RCMP, and there was no just keep moving on this one. We choose not to complain, we choose not to get the RCMP and waste their time, and it just got progressively worse and worse and worse until it ended in the accumulation today of defacement and very vulgar and irresponsible comments."
While many are likely randomly targeted, she believes the established parties are feeling threatened by the growing popularity of the PPC.
"We are a threat, I think, to the established parties in particular, but it is unfortunate because it is definitely a reflection of the division that has been created in our country."
"I think it really goes to show how radicalized things are becoming and how much division that is being drawn through things like masking and vaccines and the wedges that the Liberal Party, in particular through Justin Trudeau, are pushing."
She says her number one concern right now is for her volunteers.
"I won't have any of my volunteers fix signs just because I don't know or who or what's going on here or why."
Her volunteers will instead continue to focus on flyer drops, and only Wellwood will be doorknocking.
Elections Canada has no jurisdiction over damaged, destroyed, or removed election signs. They recommend candidates impacted to contact local police because the destruction of private property is a criminal offense. Candidates can also file a complaint with the Commissioner of Elections Canada.
Seldom are the culprits caught. Anyone witnessing the removal, destruction, or defacing of election signs should contact the RCMP at 403-851-8000.