The Conservative party has modified and re-posted a video advertisement that spoofs Historica Canada’s famous Heritage Minutes.
The ad states: “Some prime ministers were good, some great, but never had one been fined for breaking the law while in office. Until one day...”
It then cuts to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was fined $100 last June for violating conflict of interest rules by not disclosing a gift from P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
“Not only did Justin Trudeau break this law; he set an example for his cabinet,” the ad continues. “They would go on to be questioned by the ethics commissioner for failing to disclose an entire French villa they owned, giving a $24,000 fishing license to their own family members, and blowing $3,700 on a limousine ride to a campaign volunteer,” the ad continues.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau was fined $200 in connection with his failure to disclose the French villa. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc was found in breach of conflict of interest rules for approving an Arctic surf clam licence to a company that employed a family member; although faced no penalty. Jane Philpott, who was recently promoted to President of the Treasury Board, was cleared by the ethics commissioner after spending more than $3,700 on a car service owned by a campaign volunteer.
The spot ends with the familiar Heritage Minute background appearing, along with the phrase “A part of our heritage,” the Conservative party logo, a message saying the Conservatives authorized the ad and a Canadian flag.
Earlier on Sunday, Historica Canada issued a statement requesting that the Conservatives remove the fake Heritage Minute from all of its social media platforms.
“While we often welcome parodies of the Minutes, we do not approve of them being used for partisan political purposes,” said the non-profit group dedicated to promoting Canadian history.
The Conservatives briefly took the video off their YouTube channel, Twitter feeds and Facebook page. It was quickly re-released with a message emphasizing that it is a parody and “not associated with Historica Canada in any way.”
That’s not good enough for Anthony Wilson-Smith, CEO of Historica Canada. He says the charity wants a public apology.
“We’re not happy at being dragged in, even by implication, to any partisan political matter,” he said. “It’s a straight out attack from one party to another.”
Kate Harrison, vice-president of Summa Strategies, said she believes the ad could be effective.
“I think that a lot of young people will look at that and go ‘huh, that’s clever,’ and it’s really hard if you’re in opposition and outside of a campaign period to even get people to pay attention,” she said.
But political scientist Dan Horner warned that such ads can backfire.
“The Conservatives are clearly working on the assumption that there is a deep-seeded animosity towards Trudeau which we don’t see reflected in any public opinion polls,” he said.
Cory Hann, the party’s director of communications, told CTV News on Sunday afternoon that although the video was intended as a parody, “upon reflection ... we realize the historical importance of Justin Trudeau actually being the first prime minister in Canadian history to be found guilty of breaking ethics laws, and, as such, how that could be perceived as a real Heritage Minute.”
“We wouldn’t want it mistaken for a real production by Historica Canada which typically showcase prouder moments in Canadian history,” Hann said.
The Liberal party issued a statement Sunday accusing Scheer and the Conservatives of “doubling down on the same Harper-style negative attacks that Canadians rejected in 2015.”
“While the Conservatives are focused on attacking Justin Trudeau, Liberals will continue to stay focused on Canadians and our positive plan to strengthen the middle class,” the Liberals added.February 3, 2019
The original version of this video was intended as a parody. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/hJcwTOsWsE— Conservative Party (@CPC_HQ) February 3, 2019
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