Among the various political jabs targeting Progressive Conservative candidate Randy Hazlett during Thursday night’s debate, the sharpest had to do with him allegedly breaking the rules.
During the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce debate, NDP candidate France Gélinas accused her Nickel Belt opponent of breaking a municipal bylaw. Hazlett’s team, she said, has planted “hundreds” of campaign signs on municipal land.
“You’re not allowed to do this,” she said, adding that people have been phoning the city’s customer service line at 311 to complain. The New Blue Party of Ontario has also placed signs on municipal land, her office later clarified.
“We make laws, as an MPP,” Gélinas told Sudbury.com after Thursday’s debate. “The least you can do is show respect to the existing laws. … Respect the laws that are there, because you’re asking to be a legislator.”
A City of Greater Sudbury spokesperson clarified that they have received 17 complaints about election signs to date this season, and that signs are not permitted on municipal property.
Bylaw 2021-111, “A Bylaw of the City of Greater Sudbury to Regulate the Erection of Signs and Advertising Devices,” stipulates where election signs are allowed.
In an writeup about election sign rules the city provided to Gélinas’ office summarizing the bylaw, it’s noted that “election signs must be erected in a location which is completely within the limits of private properties and are restricted from any location erected on city property.”
The city’s latest user fees bylaw stipulates that the total fee for removing a sign is $144 including HST and that there’s a storage of removed signs fee of $10 per day plus 13 per cent HST.
New Blue candidates Melanie Savoie (Nickel Belt) and Sheldon Pressey (Sudbury) confirmed via emailed correspondence that they’d both been contacted by the city to be informed that their sign placements had been in breach of the city’s bylaw.
“We somehow missed it,” Savoie said, adding that her team had seen Progressive Conservative signs on city property and mistakenly believed they were in the clear.
“We are going around picking up our signs. Some have already been taken down and there's still some to tackle.”
Pressey said that he was informed on May 9 that his signs were in violation of the bylaw. He has since removed the signs in question and hasn’t heard from bylaw officers about any infractions since that time.
This is the newly formed New Blue Party of Ontario’s first provincial election.
Sudbury.com reached out to both Hazlett and Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario headquarters for comment but have not received a response.
Although it’s possible that signs featuring candidates from other political parties have also been in breach of the municipal bylaw, a city spokesperson noted that it’s difficult to determine from the photographs Sudbury.com provided them as to whether they were on private property or the city’s right of way. They do not yet have a breakdown of political affiliation with complaints filed.
Sudbury.com will reconnect with the city again next week for a more in-depth report of what the infractions have been and whether any penalties have been issued.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.