Editorial: Election vandalism poor way to express an opinion

It was discouraging to hear that two acts of vandalism targeting candidates in the Cowichan Valley for the federal election have already taken place.

Every election cycle, it seems, as soon as the election signs come out, so do the vandals.

This time around, Liberal candidate Blair Herbert had his sign torn down at his campaign headquarters in Duncan, and NDP candidate Alistair MacGregor had feces smeared on the door to his campaign office, also in Duncan. Green party candidate Lydia Hwitsum and Conservative candidate Alana DeLong haven’t suffered any vandalism thus far, but it’s early days. Ask anyone who’s ever run for office, replacing campaign signs that have been stolen or defaced ends up being an expense.

Sometimes these acts of destruction take real effort, and sometimes they seem more likely just to be random stupidity. It’s by no means certain that the two acts of vandalism so far are anything more than the actions of a few bored downtown hooligans with no particular political affiliations. We’re convinced that much of the defacing and breakage is caused by dimwits who don’t know a Conservative from a cabbage or the New Democrats from narwhal.

Nonetheless, it has a distinctly unpleasant effect on the atmosphere of an election season. For one, it’s costly for the candidates, most of whom don’t have huge budgets to waste.

Second, it’s not exactly a respectful exchange of ideas, which is what needs to take place as we all decide who we’re going to vote for on Oct. 21. We need to listen to one another, not topple other people’s billboards.

Even if the vandalism wasn’t done for ideology’s sake, nobody can say for sure, and it creates even more division between political camps, when what we need in this country is more common ground, not more suspicion. Far too many people have already been convinced that supporters of another party are the enemy, rather than fellow citizens with different priorities.

Petty crime is not a way to convince someone to a different point of view.

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