Bizzare vote by Haldimand Council re election signs shows county’s disdain for Charter

Last night, after Gary McHale complained about potential Charter violations, Haldimand Council held an emergency session to vote on  proposed changes to its election sign by-law which its own lawyer advised would not stand up to a Charter challenge.

[…] The Solicitor’s advice is that a blanket prohibition on election signs from all public property, including road allowances, would not likely withstand a Charter challenge. […] 

  • Haldimand County: ‘Special Council Agenda’ for Sept 08/10 and ‘Report PED-GM-02-2010 RE: Election Signage’ [PDF, 10P]

In a strange twist however, the County did not vote on the proposed ammendment to bring its by-law (partially) into line with the Charter by allowing election signs on road allowances (it did not address the unreasonable limits on sign sizes raised by McHale), but instead voted to enact an even newer last-minute ammendment. The new by-law allows for signs on road allowances under certain conditions which can only be considered to be bizarre, nonsensical and impossible to fulfil.

Here is an excerpt (emphasis added):

2. THAT Section 9.4 v) of By-law 1064/10 be repealed and replaced with:

Election signs shall not be located, erected, posted, placed or otherwise displayed on road allowances save and except under section 9.10 of this by-law.

3. THAT Section 9.10 ii) of By-law 1064/10 be amended by adding the following:

c. Be printed on paper;
d. Be attached flush to the surface of the structure with water soluable paste or removable tape:

4. AND THAT this by-law shall come into force and take effect on the date of its passing.

Some key questions reveal the obvious intent of the by-law…

1. Where does one get paper election signs?

Nowhere apparently. McHale has checked dozens of election sign suppliers not one of which makes paper signs. All election signs sold today are printed on soft plastic bags placed over wire frames pushed into the ground or on hard plastic boards attached to stakes. This makes them easy to place and easy to remove after the election. It also ensures they won’t tear apart, degrade and cause litter.

2. Upon which structures would one use one’s water-soluable glue to attach these imaginary paper signs if one could get them?

The road allowance is a road allowance because there are no structures on it except for perhaps hydro poles. But, the by-law also requires that the sign be mounted ‘flush to the surface’ so that means signs on the poles would have to be glued, wrapped — and overlapped — around the pole so no one could read them.

Perhaps Council is suggesting that these paper signs be glued to the grass with their water-soluable glue?

3.  Why would the County want imaginary paper signs attached with glue on the imaginary structures in the road allowance?

Water-soluable or not, removing signs attached with glue will be an onerous job compared with simply pulling out a standard election sign in a matter of seconds, and it will likely deface the imaginary structure upon which it is placed, either via the glue or by attempts to remove the sign bit by bit.

The clear objective of this by-law is to ensure candidates are not allowed to exercise their Charter right to free speech on public road allowances.  Haldimand’s own lawyer told them that their outright prohibition on road allowance signs is illegal, so it decided to pretend to respect the Charter by passing an ammendment setting up silly requirements that cannot be reasonably met. 

Council ignores ‘size’ issue

McHale had also warned council that the by-law’s size restrictions on election signs were unreasonable and provided a court ruling to prove it.

Council ignored that Charter issue altogether in its last-minute ammendment.

Another level of government with no respect for the Charter rights of Haldimand’s citizens

McHale was present at the council meeting last night and reports that all councillors voted in favour of the last-minute by-law ammendment (the Mayor only votes in a tie). The Charter rights of Haldimand County’s citizens have been violated by the province and its police force for more than four years while the federal government and Haldimand Council (except for Mayor Trainer) looked on and said little on behalf of its citizens. Now, Haldimand Council is intentionally joining them. Council knew its by-law was illegal, they had the chance to correct it, but deliberately decided, not only not to do so, but to do so in a way that clearly illustrated their intent to subvert the Charter.

McHale is weighing his legal options.

Haldimand’s motto – ‘Never miss an opportunity to miss the opportunity to do the right thing’


Haldimand Council has a long and pathetic history of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity to do the right thing, and this is merely the latest episode. Christie Blatchford’s book, I am told by a source close to the author, will relate the story of how Haldimand Council tried to mount a coup against its Mayor after she spoke out against the illegal occupation of Douglas Creek Estates in 2006 (you’ll have to wait for the book to read the details). Since then, Haldimand Council as a whole has been little more than a willing McGuinty/OPP collaborator for their race-based policing policies: 

see also:  


  • last update this article: 1313 Sept 10/10
  • I sent a link to this post and my previous one on this subject to Mayor Trainer with a request that she forward to Council. I have received word that she did, indeed, do this. Thank you, Mayor.


Mark Vandermaas, Editor

DISCLOSURE: Mark Vandermaas is assisting Mr. McHale and other candidates with their campaigns in Haldimand County for the 2010 municipal election.

One response to “Bizzare vote by Haldimand Council re election signs shows county’s disdain for Charter

  1. The very thought that municipal governments are afforded enormous powers under Canadian law is very scary for an outsider like me. 11 years that I live in Canada convinced me that Canadian municipal governments are the most reactionary, I am not afraid to say fascist branch of government in the country. That happens because they operate with the least oversight of all branches, staying under the radar of voters (who usually exhaust their energy on that little amount of monitoring federal and provincial branches receive). As a result the municipal branch encroaches into both federal and provincial jurisdictions mostly with impunity and run the things on the premise that it is too onerous and expensive for the voters to challenge the by-laws (specially considering how quickly the by-laws can be changed back and forth). End result – the municipal governments do what they want.