Thieves steal campaign signs

Unlike the provincial election candidates in the Shuswap riding who have been civil and respectful with each other, some supporters are anything but – when it comes to political signs.

In the Shuswap, it seems to be equal-opportunity nastiness.

Overnight on Wednesday, May 8, more than 50 NDP signs were taken from homes on Lakeshore Drive, in the Raven subdivision back towards downtown.

One of the those thefts traumatized a young person, according to his father.

Nine-year-old Justin Schielke was woken about 3 a.m. on May 9 and went to his window. There he saw a man in a black coat on the lawn.

"He said he was outside his window," explained father Chris Schielke later that morning, adding that his son was afraid and crying. "He was really frightened. This morning when he got up to walk the dog, he didn't want to do it. He was afraid to go outside."

Although a check of the house that morning didn't reveal anything missing, when Schielke left for school he noticed the sign was gone, along with everyone else's along his route.

While he understands the political aspect of it, he is shocked that the signs mean so much that someone would stoop to such tactics.

"Now I have a son who is afraid of what's going on outside his windows because of someone's ignorance."

Joy Orr, local NDP campaign manager, said well over 50 signs were stolen and broken, some of them defaced with nasty graffiti, and then they were dumped in Klahani Park in South Canoe.

Up until this incident, there had only been minor vandalism throughout the campaign, Orr said.

"I was deeply concerned to hear that people who had placed election signs on private property had their privacy invaded in this manner."

Salmon Arm RCMP Sgt. Carlos Tettolowski said officers are being asked to do additional patrols, and he would appreciate hearing from anyone who has information regarding the thefts.

BC Conservative candidate Tom Birch was facing a similar situation in Sicamous, where all of his signs were stolen. He said Thursday if he couldn't find them, he wouldn't be able to replace them. He calls the thefts 'stupidity' and an act of sabotage.

"If the signs are defaced or ripped up but they're there, that's vandalism.

If they're missing all together, that's sabotage," Birch said.

In the Liberal camp, campaign manager Brian Cowan said about 100 Liberal signs have gone missing. He said that's not unusual, however.

"It happens every election."

About half of them have been found.

Cowan said such behaviour ends up looking bad for all the parties, and he notes that people can be fined $10,000 for such acts.

"Signs work, they do get votes, but it's too bad that everyone just doesn't vote. If everyone voted, there wouldn't be much need for signs…"

Green Party candidate Chris George said he hadn't experienced sign problems.

"I think we identified one sign that went missing but it might have just blown off its pins."





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