WINNIPEG (CityNews) ─ A transgender federal election candidate in southeastern Manitoba is speaking out after his campaign signs were damaged, stolen and vandalized with transphobic messages.
Trevor Kirczenow is the Liberal candidate running in the riding of Provencher, which includes the areas of Steinbach and La Broquerie, Man. – an hour east of Winnipeg.
He says almost every sign he put up eventually disappeared. Then the acts of vandalism began.
“I started getting messages from supporters who were finding stickers that had been put across my signs and the stickers had a transphobic slur on them,” said Kirczenow.
“It’s really concerning. It’s worrisome and it’s not just about me.”
The sticker suggested transgendered people are “broken.”
Kirczenow ran in 2019 in the same riding. He says he was never the subject of any vandalism or hate in that election. But this time around, it’s different.
“It made me very upset to think about how this affected other folks in the LGBTQ2S community and their family members and friends who were finding these stickers. Because it wasn’t one, it was on signs throughout Steinbach and La Broquerie and a number of people found them and were hurt and offended by it.”
Kirczenow says he estimates more than 100 signs were stolen or damaged. He took to social media to share his story and has received a lot of support.
Political analyst Karim Boulos says this all comes down to leadership.
“All the leaders need to come together to establish a baseline of decorum that clearly hasn’t been set,” said Boulos. “If we’ve watched the rhetoric over the last month, the three debates, there isn’t a lot of respect shown between the leaders and all of them are guilty of it.”
This campaign has been marred by angry protesters confronting Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. At a campaign event in London, Ont., some threw gravel at him.
Boulos doesn’t believe the violence and tension should get any worse — but it’s definitely here to stay.
“When threatening physical violence and making people and their families very uncomfortable simply because of who they are, I hate the cliché, but that’s not very Canadian,” said Boulos.
“You know, it’s a slippery slope. Once one person sets the bar a little lower, the next person feels they can go lower than that, and that’s why it needs to be nipped in the bud right away.”
Kirczenow has called other candidates in his riding to stand with him in condemning the violence.
CityNews reached out to current Conservative incumbent Ted Falk but has yet to receive a response.
Kirczenow says it’s important to talk about these issues, but he’s also focusing on his campaign.
“I want people to know that I am a whole person,” he said. “Yes, I’m openly transgender and I’m okay with talking about that, but there is a lot more to my life and candidacy than just my gender identity.”