Liberal Party candidate Estelle Hjertaas said she’s been trying to build support for her party in rural areas, but sign thieves and vandals have made that almost impossible.
Hjertaas, who also ran for the Liberals in 2019, said roughly 30 signs placed around Prince Albert and along highways in the constituency have been stolen or damaged. She said that’s making it difficult to campaign in rural areas, where some voters are wondering why she doesn’t have a larger presence.
“We knew some signs would be vandalized, but I didn’t realize the total extent of it until one of our volunteers drove the whole way to Nipawin and realized that almost none of the signs were still there,” Hjertaas said during an interview on Monday. “I mean, we replaced some, but it’s kind of too late in the campaign to buy more.”
Hjertaas said Liberal lawns signs have also disappeared in Prince Albert, forcing at least one of her supporters to take the sign off the lawn every night so it doesn’t get damaged or stolen. She said that’s made things difficult in a short campaign, where candidates don’t have a lot of time to get their message out.
However, Hjertaas said it’s outside of Prince Albert where they still have the most problems. Signs placed along the highway heading out of the City and either north to Christopher Lake or west to Shellbrook have taken a lot of damage, as have others in the Nipawin and Carrot River areas.
Hjertaas said she’s’ concerned the lack of signs will send the wrong message to voters.
“I want people to know I’m committed to the entire riding, and I want to represent all of it,” Hjertass said during an interview on Monday. “We did make the effort to go out to the whole riding and put signs up in different communities. I just want people to know that it’s not a situation where we don’t care or I’m not committed to them.”
Liberal yard signs were also stolen and damaged during the 2019 election. That year, Hjertaas filed a complaint with police after video emerged of someone damaging her election signs. She has no plans to contact police this year, but encouraged residents to do so if they had evidence someone was damaging the property.
“Whether it’s my signs or anyone else’s, it’s completely inappropriate, and a criminal offence,” she said.
Hjertaas said some of the people who’ve notified her about the thefts or vandalism aren’t even supporters. They’re regular residents concerned about the damage.
Hjertaas added that she’d like to see all campaigns get the same chance to make their case to voters.
“’I’d like people to stop damaging my signs or anyone else’s,” she said. “It’s not appropriate. It’s obviously a criminal offence and it’s an affront to democracy.”