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Nickel Belt candidates denounce vandalization of Liberal campaign signs

At least seven of Nickel Belt incumbent Liberal candidate Marc Serré’s campaign signs have been defaced with spraypaint depicting graphic imagery.
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Nickel Belt incumbent Liberal candidate Marc Serré stands next to a campaign sign in front of a house in the McCrea Heights neighbourhood on Monday, one of approximately seven large signs to be vandalized thus far in his campaign. Serré is standing in such a way as to obscure a graphic image scrawled on the sign.

At least seven of Nickel Belt incumbent Liberal candidate Marc Serré’s campaign signs have been defaced with spraypaint depicting graphic imagery.

On Monday, Serré hosted a media event next to one of the defaced campaign signs, which was in front of the house of a young family in the McCrae Heights neighbourhood.

“I always took pride in working for the people in Nickel Belt, working for individuals and earning their respect, to try to help people,” he said. 

“It’s really hard for me to be here talking about this because that’s not who I am … I choose to be positive, I choose to help people, and it’s really not right, and not only vandalizing signs with graphic images but also intimidating volunteers on social media -- that is not acceptable.”

In one case, he said a 14-year-old Liberal volunteer was threatened on social media.

Although still wrong, Serré said there’s a “certain level of acceptance” when the attacks are directed at him, but the intimidation of volunteers is “unbelievable” and “totally unacceptable.”

Harassment and intimidation have factored more heavily into the campaigns of party leaders thus far, most notably that of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was forced to cancel an event last week in Bolton, Ont., due to security concerns.

A lot of this appears to be tied to people’s frustrations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated health measures senior levels of government have put into place, Serré said.

A so-called Rally for Medical Freedom is scheduled to take place in Sudbury on Wednesday. Proponents were seen downtown last week advertising the event and handing out copies of the newsletter Druthers, a conspiracy theory publication that prints fake news about the pandemic.

“I understand that people are frustrated, people are hurting, people have anxiety. I understand that, I’m hearing that, but this is an opportunity to look at the political parties and the directions they’re taking,” Serré said of this election season. 

Upon learning about the vandalization of Serré’s signs on Monday, his political opponents in Nickel Belt were quick to denounce the actions of what Serré describes as a very small minority of constituents. 

NDP candidate Andréane Chénier wrote on Twitter that she came upon Serré’s defaced signs while driving into Sudbury on Monday morning.

“While you may not agree with the politics of a particular candidate, they're people doing a job,” she wrote, also noting that neither vandalism nor harassment is OK. 

In conversation with Sudbury.com by phone later on in the day, Chénier said this is a topic close to her heart she has tackled through previous work with CUPE and as a clinical research technician, during which she was responsible for workplace safety. 

“Democracy works when democracy’s allowed to work,” she said, adding that regardless of the person targetted, unconstructive potshots and acts of criminal vandalism should never be accepted.

“No, this is not OK. No, this is not acceptable behaviour. No, this is not dialogue.”

Conservative candidate Charles Humphrey said he has messaged his political opponents to express his condemnation of the actions of a few and state his commitment to respectful political engagement. 

Neither the campaign office of Chénier nor Humphrey report coming across any defaced campaign signs thus far, though Humphrey said he’s sure it will turn up eventually.

“I think this troubling development is something that’s unfortunately not going to go away,” he said. “Hate feeds hate and undermines our democratic traditions of decency and respect.

Candidates might not agree with one another on the issues, but Humphrey said “each one of us is here to do the best we can for the country” and that acts such as vandalizing campaign signs are an affront to democracy.

On Monday, the OPP issued a news release in which they reminded people to leave election signs alone. 

“The OPP would like to remind the public that removing election signs without permission is a criminal offence and those responsible may be charged,” the news release read. 

Although the discovery of vandalized signs has been disheartening, Serré said the vandals will not win.

“I’m not stopping,” he said. “I’m more focused than ever and I think this election is more important than ever. We have to put this American-style politics aside.”

Other candidates who have so far announced their intention to run in the Nickel Belt riding so far are Green party candidate Craig Gravelle and People’s Party of Canada candidate David Hobbs.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com. 



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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
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