Social media users have vented frustration over reports that some campaign signs left over from the Oct. 21 federal election are scattered in ditches on the Southside.
The campaign signs of Conservative Party candidate Claire Rattée have been the target of online criticism.
But regardless of who put the signs up, Elections Canada (EC) regulations state that candidate signs are the property of the political party or candidate.
“The one who put them up owns them,” as Natasha Gauthier, EC spokesperson told Lakes District News.
“Who owns them depends on who spent the money on them. If the party bought them then the party owns them. If the candidate bought them then the candidate owns them. It’s part of political financing,” she said.
“All money spent on campaigning has to be accounted for. Whether it’s money spent during the election or money you spent two years ago but you’re using the signs now, they count toward your expense limit.”
The Canada Elections Act doesn’t regulate signs after elections, and where they end up after the polls are finished determines who has responsibility for them.
In the case of the Southside, where campaign posters were allegedly collecting in ditches beside roads, it would be under the jurisdiction of the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).
“The ministry’s policy regarding election signs is mainly concerned with road/highway safety – ie. making sure signs are not obstructing traffic control devices or posing a traffic hazard,” said Jamie Weiss, MOTI spokesperson.
“If highway-side signs aren’t removed on the first working day after the election, road-maintenance staff may take them down and bill the owner. It falls under the contract with our maintenance contractors. They might give [the owners] a courtesy call first asking them to remove them. If they don’t follow up then fines could be instituted if deemed necessary.”
Signs remaining on municipal or private property are subject to local bylaws. The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, for its part doesn’t have a bylaw on federal election campaign signs, said Chief Administrative Officer Curtis Helgesen.
If signs were put on residents’ private property without their permission, EC advises Canadians to contact the candidate and ask for the signs to be removed.
In an email to Lakes District News, Rattée said she had sent someone to gather the signs and expected them to be collected early in the week.