by Kyle Duggan in Ottawa
The Conservatives have taken out ads in ethnic media suggesting Justin Trudeau would legalize brothels and make marijuana more accessible to children, and have been fundraising on the claims as well.
Oakville Conservative candidate Terence Young’s campaign sent out a lengthy e-mail on Oct. 6 titled “How might your neighbourhood change under the Liberals” which also contains a “donate now” link. It reads as follows:
“The Liberals want to legalize prostitution, voting against our progressive bill to help vulnerable women get out of prostitution, Bill C-36. That would mean brothels and madams in Oakville communities, protected by law.”
“For most of us in Oakville, our home is our major asset for financial security in retirement. Having a marijuana store, a brothel or a drug injection site nearby could easily make our homes difficult to sell, and devalued.”
Young had also suggested the claims at a local all-candidates debate.
Bill C-36 was an anti-prostitution bill that had to be amended because of a Supreme Court ruling which struck down Canada’s existing prostitution laws last December. The logic behind the assertion seems to be that because Trudeau voted against Bill C-36 without proposing new legislation, the Liberals are in favour of legalizing prostitution.
Various B.C. media have reported that the Conservatives have taken out ads in Chinese and Punjabi-language newspapers in Richmond and Vancouver suggesting the same, including the pictured ad from Ming Pao.
Twitter posts also suggest similar ads have been airing on Punjabi television.
Shock, disappointment in ads
The Liberal candidate in Vancouver South, Harjit Sajjan, said he reacted with shock and disappointment at the ads, and that they smack of desperation “for a party to use graphic images like this in politics for the sake of votes.”
He also said the Conservative’s logic on the Liberal’s stance on Bill C-36 is misleading. “Just because you voted against legislation that was, by our assessment, not going to have the desired impact – to extrapolate to that extent, that’s a complete lack of leadership.”
Former Conservative MP Stockwell Day – campaigning with Conservative candidates in Vancouver Wednesday – defended the ads, and said there could be “all kinds of other business developments that will flow” from legal prostitution.
“When you articulate a policy, you should think through what could be the ramifications of that policy. Whether it’s Justin Trudeau saying he’s going to run deficits and we say that’s going to hurt the economy, or whether it’s Justin Trudeau saying [he] supports so-called safe injection sites around the country and [he] wants marijuana products to be more available, then you should realize people will draw conclusions on some of the results of that.”
Capitalizing on ethnic audiences
April Lindgren, a Ryerson University Journalism professor who led a study on ethnic media ads in the 2011 campaign, says the Conservatives have ramped up ethnic media advertising since the 2011 election, when their advertising tended to be more about the candidates rather than social values.
“Certainly, in terms of the newspapers it’s ramped up from the last elections. We didn’t see any specific topic-related ads,” she said.
“I think they have a sense that there’s a social conservative element in some of the ethnic communities and that’s what they’re capitalizing on,” she said, adding that it raises the question of whether they’re losing the battle on the economic messaging front.
When asked by reporters at a campaign stop earlier Wednesday about the ads, Conservative leader Stephen Harper said the “other guys” will claim it’s about fear but “all we’re trying to do is try attention to facts – facts they are actually not willing to talk about.”
The brothels assertion was floated by Conservative candidate Jason Kenney late in September at a news conference where he said Trudeau wants to force communities to accept brothels.
The Conservatives have taken on a tough-on-drugs stance in their messaging and as well have repeatedly tried to shut down Insite, a Vancouver-based safe injection site.
Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.