With the provincial election campaign in full swing, signs supporting various candidates have been popping up on lawns and fences all over the city.
One Point Douglas man, however, says an election sign that was attached to his chain link fence – twice in recent weeks – was put there without his permission, and he’s trying to figure out why.
Frank Douglas told 680 CJOB he was sitting in the living room of his Burrows Avenue home last week when he saw two children and a woman he believes was their mother on his property.
The kids, he said, dropped an NDP pamphlet in his mailbox, while the mother started affixing a sign to his fence.
“I told her ‘No thank you’, and I didn’t think much of it,” said Douglas, “until I read this pamphlet that said ‘thanks for agreeing to take a lawn/fence election sign for Bernadette Smith and Manitoba’s NDP.’
“Well, there was no agreement.”
Douglas passed it off as a mistake, until he returned from the lake on Sunday and saw another sign.
“I come back from the lake, and there’s a sign … and one of these notices placed in the door saying that I agreed to it,” he said.
“I wasn’t in town. How could I agree to something? Why this was targeted twice, I have no idea. I’ve never had a sign on that property, never had a sign in any other election.”
Douglas said his concern is that the sign could give his neighbours the wrong idea. His family, he said, has been in the area for 90 years, and is well-known in the community. None of his family members have ever been card-carrying members of a political party.
“The danger I see in this is that I could’ve been gone the whole long weekend and that sign could’ve sat own my lawn for days,” he said.
“People in the the neighbourhood, who know who I am, who know our family for decades… it could influence people in the neighbourhood, the way they vote, possibly.
“I could have a friend drive down the street and say, ‘oh, Frank’s got an NDP sign. I’m not sure who to vote for. Frank thinks the NDP’s OK, maybe I’ll vote for the NDP’.”
According to Elections Manitoba, the only strict requirement on election signs is that they can’t be posted within a 50-metre radius of a voting location while voting is underway.
There’s no legislation that covers signs placed on private property. Elections Manitoba told 680 CJOB that campaigns should always get permission before placing a sign on someone’s property, and that if it’s done without permission, the owner can remove the sign and should contact the party if they have concerns.
On the municipal level, signs are regulated under a neighbourhood livability by-law. An individual can be fined $200 and a corporation $400 for violating the by-law, which says signs can’t obstruct pedestrians or vehicles, can’t block traffic signs or devices, and can’t be placed in a median.
The NDP told 680 CJOB that they make it clear to their volunteers that they mus ask permission before placing signs, and that the incidents involving Douglas are a mistake.
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