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Vandals target election signs in Kingston, Ont.

Liberal candidate Ted Hsu says his signs have been the target of vandalism. Global News

They are a sure sign of an election cycle and a strategy to get candidates’ names in the minds of voters: election signs.

The highly visible signs are all around us, along roadways and on front lawns.

As Ontario’s election day approaches, there have been reports that a number of election signs in this region have been tampered with.

“At the beginning of the campaign, for a few days, it was fine. then we had one evening where a large number of signs were spraypainted or stolen,” said Ted Hsu, Liberal candidate in Kingston and the Islands.

“Ever since then, there has been a steady trickle of sign vandalism.”

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But we’ve got out and replaced the signs that were defaced or stolen, and we’ve got people who have even upgraded from small signs to big signs. So we’ve been able to replace the damaged signs,” Hsu said.

He isn’t alone. Ted Darby, who is running for the Liberals in the neighbouring riding of Hastings, Lennox and Addington, said he’s faced personal threats alongside vandalism to various signs.

“It’s concerning, not because you know it’s a sign, but it’s still an act of violence. We live in a democracy and part of our political process is being able to put our point of view across and to let people know who we are and what we stand for. And when we see this kind of issue, it is concerning, it’s unsettling and it’s certainly not Canadian.”

It’s also illegal, police say.

“Anybody who steals or damages an election campaign sign can be charged with a criminal code offence of theft under $5,000 or mischief under $5,000,” said Const. Anthony Colangeli of Kingston police.

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And to anyone defacing signs, Hsu has a message: “Why don’t you go vote? You can vote any day. Go vote, get your friends to vote. If you don’t like a certain party, vote for somebody else.”

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“Make a choice. That’s the right way of living in a democracy, to participate in the political process, to respect the communications of your political adversaries and to run against them or rally support against them if you don’t like them. But don’t try to inhibit their right to political expression.”

Kingston police encourage the public to report any vandalism associated with the election.

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