Ottawa municipal candidates decry political interference

In the ramp up to the final week of Ottawa’s municipal election race, some council candidates say they have had issues with campaign material being defaced, removed, or even stolen. 

In a now viral video, taken in late September, Barrhaven-West candidate Taayo Simmonds accused fellow candidate David Hill of removing his campaign materials from a residential mailbox and replacing them with Hill’s own. 

Hill later apologized for his actions, calling them a “lapse in judgement.”

In the wake of that video, other candidates are speaking up about their own experiences. 

Knoxdale-Merivale ward candidate Michael Wood posted a Twitter video Friday that appears to show a man removing a lawn sign supporting Wood from a property.

“It’s disheartening to me knowing the people that have supported me, the money that’s been spent, and seeing the signs ripped up,” Wood said.

In Kanata South, Erin Coffin says she’s had election signs repeatedly removed from certain streets, and even had signs stolen from her volunteers. 

“We’ve had a volunteer, my dad, have signs taken out of his car while he was out putting signs out for us,” Coffin said. 

Municipal experts say it’s part of a trend of growing political division that is seeping through politics and is now prevalent at the municipal level.  

“We’ll see if there’s a bit of a reset with the new term of council because over the past year and even three to four years there have been some deep divisions that have developed really since the last election,” Jon Willing, a municipal affairs commentator said. 

In September, Ottawa police said they had received 14 reports of mischief or theft of election signs. 

Interfering with or damaging election signs is an offence under the criminal code and charges can include mischief to property. 

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