Election signs on public property just another sales pitch
I attribute my lifelong interest in political activism to my father, who was the Vancouver Sun reporter at the Provincial Legislature when I was born. Dad had the habit of bringing his work home with him so my formative years were spent listening to him interview office holders while they played cribbage at the kitchen table. As a result I was the only student in my first grade class who was on first name terms with both the premier and leader of the opposition, and became a policy wonk before the term was coined. The first time I volunteered to work in an election was in 1966, where I assisted the sign crew. This brings me to the point of my current diatribe.
In those times election signs were only placed on private property. At least in British Columbia none of the parties were allowed to scatter their signs about the boulevards, which was considered littering. An election sign was considered a personal endorsement, and led to some interesting landlord/tenant disputes. I recall a family in the 1969 election where the father and mother both ordered the largest signs possible from opposing parties, New Democrat and Social Credit, with one of the kids opting for a smaller declaration in favour of the Liberal. Over the years I worked the sign crew in several ridings for the candidates of my choice.
Then came a court ruling that declared election signs free speech and allowed them to be placed on public land. The issue was no longer the opinion of the individual but the size of a candidate’s budget and any well funded campaign was able to scatter their names anywhere they pleased. This, in my view, cheapened the value of the entire process; it was no longer an endorsement from a citizen, just another sales pitch. Previously one was able to get a feel from the number of signs how the individual candidates were doing and after it became a matter of money. Still, this old campaigner still counts the signs and tries to predict the winners. This year it looks like the Remax party has a chance at a majority. I might even vote for them myself because most of their signs are on private properties.