While disappointed in the number of his large signs rendered useless,  Airdrie-Cochrane NDP Steve Durrell is more concerned and is in absolute disbelief over the hatred being spewed on defaced election signs elsewhere in the province.

The racial and homophobic slurs defacing these signs had him take to social media yesterday to express his concern. He's also calling on all other candidates to speak out against such hateful actions

One of the signs Durrell posted showed a swastika painted on the sign of NDP candidate Dave Shepherd in the Edmonton-City Centre riding. It's not an isolated case.

Durrell says he's never seen intolerance raise it's ugly face to this extreme in elections.

"It's unacceptable," says Durrell. "The kind of vandalism we're seeing this time around is far more serious than we've ever seen before. It's more than a sign out of place here and there, it's spreading messages of hate and I condemn those incidents of racism, homophobia and discrimination.

"I can't say it any other way, this racist, homophobic and discriminatory crap doesn't belong in this province. It's not what I believe the people of Alberta stand for. It's far more important that we're standing together and that everyone knows they are accepted here."

At least one resident has also been ridiculed by neighbours over the placement of a Durrell sign on their lawn. Only four hours after putting the sign, she phoned Durrell's campaign office and said she had to remove it because her family, including children, were being hassled.

"Politics is a discussion and we shouldn't be treating our neighbors like that," says Durrell. "I don't think hate, discrimination and homophobia are appropriate messages to have in Alberta and here in Airdrie-Cochrane."

Two days ago, a number of Durrell's larger highway signs were destroyed when a sharp object was used to cut out the centre of the sign, rendering them useless. This is the first time he's seen this method used to destroy a sign.

"Sign vandalism, unfortunately, happens in any campaign in one capacity or another. Here in Cochrane, I know other campaigns have had signs vandalized or stolen and we have, too. I want to point out its volunteers working on all our campaigns who put those signs up and knock on doors."

UCP candidate Peter Guthrie has also seen signs removed or destroyed and has assigned a team to routinely check them, especially those which are scattered on roads and are a safety hazard.

"There are signs that are removed, tipped over or completely destroyed," says Guthrie. "We're seeing that maybe not every night but every second night."

He wishes it would stop and says there's a better way for electors to express their viewpoints.

"People are very passionate about their candidate or about their party and possibly emotions are running high and they express themselves this way. It's something we really wish that people would refrain from and on Apr. 16 get out to the polls and express their opinion that way."

All-Candidates Election Forum announced

Details are being finalized for an all-candidates forum being jointly-hosted by the Cochrane Eagle and the Cochrane Chamber of Commerce.

The forum will be held on Tuesday, Apr. 9 in the Cochrane Lions Events Centre.

Eagle editor Chris Puglia says more details will be available soon.

Currently, there are four candidates in the running: Steve Durrell, NDP; Peter Guthrie, UCP; Matthew Morrisey, FCP; and Len Raincock, Alberta Party.

The nomination window for candidates ends tomorrow, Mar. 29, at 2 p.m.

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