The federal election has taken a nasty twist in one corner of the Maritimes.

Vandalism of election signs has become almost routine during a campaign, though in this case, the damage has been taken to a new and troubling level.

"You see it right off the bat," said Adam Little, who lives near Thomaston Corner, N.B.

"It's hard to miss a swastika on a sign."

Less than a week into the election campaign, the sign for Liberal candidate Karen Ludwig has been defaced with the offensive symbol. She says it raises routine vandalism to a new and ugly level.

"We have Jewish groups that are reaching out to us, and they're also reaching out to the RCMP to make sure the issue is followed-up," Ludwig said.

Campaign workers are also concerned about who else is seeing the sign.

"It is very sad that we see children on school buses going by defaced signs and having to go home and ask their parents why," said Marg Colbourne.

New Brunswick is not the only location where that symbol is showing up on election signs. In recent days, signs belonging to Conservative, Liberal and NDP candidates in British Columbia and in the Montreal area have been similarly defaced.

The incidents have drawn outrage from Jewish community leaders, including the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Toronto.

"The swastika symbol is anti-democratic and goes against Canadian values of freedom, diversity and tolerance. This hateful graffiti has no place in our nation's political discourse," Avi Benlolo, the center's president and CEO wrote in an e-mail.

Ludwig says other signs belonging to her campaign have also been damaged.

"Those were deliberate actions taken against a candidate's signs," Ludwig said. "And they didn't take my entire face, they just took my mouth and as I said to friends, I won't be muzzled by that."

With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron.