When Lawn Signs Aren't an Option

By Melanee Thomas on Sep 8, 2008

I am convinced that, as a displaced Albertan, I will always find politics in Quebec somewhat odd.

Election campaigns near the farm I grew up on were always quiet affairs, and the only notice we received of the election (save what was on the TV and in the newspaper) was the odd giant sign on some farmer's field. In Lethbridge, we had a whole portion of the campaign team dedicated to lawn signs, and we were quite proud to have "owned" certain high profile parts of the city, peppering as many lawns and fences as we could with our campaign signs. 

In urban cores, however, lawn sign campaigns are not a viable option as, to state the obvious, few people actually have lawns. When I lived in Calgary-Nose Hill, we just didn't see many signs at all. So few signs were out, in fact, that if you weren't paying attention, it would be easy to avoid the fact that an election was going on. 

Unlike Calgary (or at least the part I lived in), one cannot miss when an election is happening in Montreal. Signs, instead of peppering lawns, adorn nearly every lamp post on major streets. What I find exceptional about these signs is that they have large images of each candidate's face plastered all over them, and they are typically posted at a level where the faces could be vandalised by a well-placed Sharpie. 

During the last Quebec provincial election, I was taken aback by how little vandalism actually occurred. I was not surprised, however, that the vandalism increased significantly for the Westmount-Ville Marie by-election. The Green Party candidate has been dubbed "The Hoff" by the locals, and many of his signs bear a striking resemblance to Captain Morgan ads. The NDP candidate's signs were rarely vandalised, and the only signs that appeared completely unscathed were the Liberal candidate's as they were placed high enough to be out of reach. 

On Sunday, I was not surprised to see the Liberal sign crew out in Laurier--Sainte-Marie (the riding I reside now, currently held by Gilles Duceppe). I was, however, surprised to see where they were placing the signs: they are so high on the light posts that it is quite easy to miss them. I understand that campaigns would be eager to ensure their signs wouldn't be vandalised, especially on a street such as St. Denis (with a notoriety for revelry). That said, placing signs nearly out of sight as well as out of reach is a bit much. 

Duceppe's team had some of his signs up today, also too high to reach without a ladder, but a good metre and a half below the Liberal candidate's signs. Some New Democrat signs are up on balconies, and as one would expect in urban Montreal, there is little Conservative presence.

Given the importance of Quebec to both Conservative and Liberal fortunes, I expect that we will see much more campaign activity in the city in the coming weeks. 

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