Campaigning for the 2023 territorial election comes to an end today, but there was one bit of heartburn a couple of candidates had to deal with leading up to Tuesday’s vote.
Bruce Valpy, one of the candidates running in Yellowknife North, said he received a call from a resident in Niven Lake on Nov. 9 informing him that one of his campaign signs had been defaced along with a sign belonging to fellow candidate Shauna Morgan. Concerned about the implications, Valpy decided to investigate the situation personally.
Upon arriving at the scene, Valpy and Morgan met with the RCMP, who had also been alerted to the situation. Police opened an investigation, while both Valpy and Morgan decided to lay the signs face down on the ground to prevent further visibility of the defacement.
Valpy said he was deeply troubled by what was scrawled on the signs: swastikas. He expressed disappointment and surprise, noting that such behavior was unexpected in the civil society of the North.
“I don’t know whether it was kids or adults, but obviously they felt using these terms got across their message, whatever their message was,” he said. “I think from what we’re seeing down south and around the world, it’s important that we realize this can come home, and we’ve got to condemn it.”
Defacing campaign signs is an offence under the NWT Elections Act. Section 296 of the act reads as follows:
”… a person who, without authority, takes down, removes, covers up, mutilates, defaces or alters campaign advertising materials is guilty of an offence.”
Anyone found guilty of such an offence could face summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both, depending on the severity of the offence.
“Elections NWT asks that anyone witnessing any removal of signage and damage should report it to the RCMP, who will investigate further,” said Matthew Mallon, spokesperson with Elections NWT.
NNSL contacted the RCMP for comment about the incident, as well as getting information on any other such incidents that have been reported around the NWT, but there was no response as of Tuesday afternoon.
Despite the incident, Valpy said all candidates should work together to combat hate speech and educate the younger generation about its harmful effects.