After accusing Conservatives of fearmongering in Chinese-language election ads, the Liberals are now facing questions about whether they’re guilty of doing the same thing.
A Liberal party ad posted on Facebook this week features a prominent picture of a rifle and a tagline that says “The Conservative Party wants looser gun regulation.” An accompanying caption says: “Once the Conservative Party takes power, these assault rifles will spread through the streets. The Liberal Party will strengthen gun control, and crack down on gun crime.”
Asked Thursday by a Global News reporter if the Liberals were engaged in the spread of disinformation just like they had accused the Conservatives of doing, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said: “We have made the commitment to ban military-style assault weapons across this country. (Conservative Leader) Andrew Scheer has clearly said he will not. Indeed, he wants to reverse some of the changes we made to render it easier for people to access weapons.”
Liberal party spokesman Joe Pickerill later added by email: “We will always make sure our position is clear and available to everyone and contrast that to what the Conservatives are proposing so Canadians have access to the facts.”
But Conservative party spokesman Simon Jefferies said the ad was “nothing but more lies.” He went on to outline Scheer’s plans to tackle violent crime and gun crime, including ending automatic bail for gang members, ensuring prison time for possessing a smuggled firearm and creating stronger background checks for gun licences. He did not, however, say anything about the party’s plans to change access to guns themselves.
Just last week, it was the Liberals who accused the Conservatives of using scare tactics in various Chinese-language ads.
One ad on Facebook featured an image of someone using a razor blade to cut white powder. “Previously, Trudeau legalized marijuana, and now he plans to legalize hard drugs!” the caption read. A similar ad also reportedly appeared on the popular Chinese-language messaging platform WeChat.
A related Facebook video stated that the Liberals “intend to legalize hard drugs, just like they legalized marijuana. Only Scheer’s Conservatives can stop Trudeau’s hard drug legalization plan and protect the safety of our children.”
The Liberals said at the time that the Conservatives were stealing from the “American right-wing playbook” by “spreading false information to scare and mislead voters.” Trudeau has previously stated he has no plans to pursue further decriminalization of drugs.
But Jefferies cited video clips in which Trudeau states he is not considering legalizing hard drugs “right now” or “at this time.”
“If Justin Trudeau tells us precisely when he is going to legalize dangerous drugs we will amend our advertisements to reflect this new information,” he said.
Asked by the Post if both parties were guilty of fearmongering, representatives did not respond. They also would not say why certain ads were being put out in Chinese language only.
Niraj Sinha, founder and CEO of Maple Diversity Communications, said both parties are clearly attempting to influence the growing numbers of Chinese voters, particularly in Ontario and B.C.
Traditional Eastern cultures, she said, tend to view drugs and guns differently than the West. Research has shown that Chinese immigrants tend to cite well-being and opportunities for their children as the primary reason for their immigration to Canada.
“Drugs and guns can be something directly relatable to their younger generations. That’s why this Chinese segment (even South Asians) will view it more sensitively,” she said.
Andres Machalski, president of MIREMS International, an ethnic-media monitoring company, said the ads appeared to be a “desperate expression of the lack of real distinction between the party platforms in many issues that concern immigrants.”
“What for me is astounding is the fact that Canadian politicians have so little respect for the intelligence of our ethnic communities that they think they can dupe them with fake claims about their opponents’ platforms. And that is a crime against democracy in my view.”
Translation provided by Niko Bell