Campaign signs occasionally being vandalized during an election campaign is unfortunately nothing new.
However, the extensive recent vandalism to the signs of the local SDSG Liberal candidate represents a new low in the political tone of this entire election.
The signs had the face of the candidate painted black, with the eyes and mouth masked off so that those parts could still be seen. This was not just some youth tagging everything in sight with a can of spray paint. No other political signs were painted in this attack, despite the close proximity of larger signs within feet of those being defaced. We can only conclude that this was a clear political statement against the party the candidate represents, carried out deliberately and intentionally.
Regardless of the past transgressions of that party’s leader, wearing racially and culturally insensitive make up, those were the actions of that leader alone. They were not the actions of our local candidate.
This kind of vandalism further perpetuates the stereotype that rural areas of the country are backwards, they are behind the times, and they lack inclusivity. Is this an image we want to project?
From the outset of the campaign, all candidates in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry have said they want to run clean and fair campaigns. That positivity showed through as many of the local candidates spoke out against the vandalism, and against the tone of the attack. Those candidates were supportive of the candidate whose signs were vandalized, clearly demonstrating that while there are political differences out there, civility and mutual respect must be paramount.
Such attributes are not expected only from the candidates, but also from the electorate. We all need to show respect and civility.
We don’t have to agree with the party platforms or personal ethos of the respective party leaders. We also don’t have to agree with the views of local candidates, or with the issues they believe are important in SDSG. But we do all have to agree to respect each other.
We hope that this is the last instance in South Dundas, and the region, where this type of callous vandalism takes place. Maybe we can set the standard that all political parties, and their respective leaders and supporters, can follow with a month remaining in the election race.
We are better than this, and we can do better.