It’s a federal election year in Canada and that means it’s time for politically-charged ads about how Justin Trudeau is the worst OR Andrew Scheer is the worst OR they’re both the worst and Jagmeet Singh should take over. Whatever your political beliefs, attack ads probably aren’t your favourite part of democracy. Too bad we’re in for another eight months of them.
This weekend, the Conservative party released an ad that went a bridge too far, at least according to Historica Canada. Remember those “Heritage Minutes” that history teachers have been forcing Canadian students to watch since the signing of the Constitution? The Conservative Party took some liberty with the format and created a highly-partisan ad attacking Justin Trudeau (who is, you know, a part of our heritage).
The original version of this video was intended as a parody. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/hJcwTOsWsE
— Conservative Party (@CPC_HQ) February 3, 2019
The snarky 60-second ad acknowledged Trudeau as “the first prime minister in Canadian history to be found guilty of breaking ethics laws” (referring to his trip to Aga Khan’s private island in 2016 which was found to have violated conflict-of-interest laws) and called out members of the cabinet who have faced their own ethics scandals while in office.
While there are tonnes of parody Heritage Minutes out there, Historica Canada didn’t like the blatantly partisan use of their brand. They issued a statement Sunday asking the party to remove it and saying that while they “often welcome parodies of the Minute” (seriously, they have a whole playlist of them on YouTube), they didn’t approve of the Conservatives’ use of the format for “partisan political purposes.” They emphasized that they are a “non-partisan charitable organization that works with governments at various levels and supporters of all political stripes.”
— Historica Canada (@HistoricaCanada) February 3, 2019
Shortly after that, Andrew Scheer tweeted that he had the video recut with a disclaimer saying it was not associated with Historica Canada “out of respect” for the organization but reminded Canadians, “while our video is a parody, Trudeau’s ethical breaches are sadly all too real.”
.@HistoricaCanada does tremendous work promoting Canadian history. Out of respect, I’ve ordered @CPC_HQ to repost the video with a disclaimer that indicates our video has no connection to Historica. While our video is a parody, Trudeau’s ethical breaches are sadly all too real. https://t.co/CvTO33QbLL
— Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) February 3, 2019
Historica Canada wasn’t satisfied with the recutting and issued a second statement later Sunday night explaining further their desire to remain non-partisan. They called again for the party to remove its “mock Minute” from all social media accounts since the purpose of Heritage Minutes is to tell “stories in a factual non-partisan manner.”
“While the [Conservative] Minute has a disclaimer that makes clear it was not produced by Historica Canada, it is counter to the spirit of the Minutes,” the statement reads.
— Historica Canada (@HistoricaCanada) February 4, 2019
Andrew Scheer and the federal Conservatives have yet to respond to Historica Canada’s second appeal to remove the video.