Ad company rejects calls to remove anti-immigration billboard - Canadanewsmedia
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Ad company rejects calls to remove anti-immigration billboard

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The owner of billboards currently showcasing ads that promote the People’s Party of Canada’s controversial stance on immigration says the material is staying up.

The ads, featuring a photo of party leader Maxime Bernier, the slogan “Say NO to mass immigration” and a call to vote for his party, started popping up across the country late last week. They were criticized nearly immediately as promoting what some called hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric.


anti-immigration billboard

Petitions have since sprung up to call for the owner of the billboards, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, to take the ads down, arguing that they violate the company’s own code of conduct.

But the company issued a statement Sunday saying that if people have a problem, they should contact the advertiser, True North Strong & Free Advertising Corp.

Pattison’s statement suggested they had reviewed the ad content and did not find it violation of the Ad Standards of Canada (ASC) code or their own policies.

“We take a neutral position on ads that comply with the ASC code as we believe Canadians do not want us to be the judge or arbiter of what the public can or cannot see,” the company said in a statement circulated on their social media accounts.

“Should advertising elicit a public debate, we encourage Canadians to voice their opinions directly to the advertiser who placed the message as it is our policy that their contact information must be a legible part of the ad.”

The company said they will monitor the signs to ensure the contact information remains up, and if it doesn’t, they will remove the campaign.

In their statement, Pattison Outdoor included a link to the People’s Party of Canada platform, prefacing it by saying it “outlines that they would prioritize economic immigration over mass immigration.”

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The People’s Party platform pledges to dramatically slash the number of immigrants Canada accepts, arguing the Liberals and Conservatives use “mass immigration” as a political tool to buy votes. On top of cutting the number of people admitted, the party would cancel a program that allows people to sponsor their parents and grandparents, and strictly limit other family immigration programs, as well as accept far fewer refugees.

“The billboards are not the product of the People’s Party of Canada,” Johanne Mennie, the party’s executive director, said in a phone interview Friday with Global News. “They are authorized by a third party and the PPC has not been in any contact with this third party.”

The billboards have been reported in Halifax, parts of Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Regina and Vancouver. The People’s Party of Canada has said it is not associated with the group that put up the signs.

According to a filing with Elections Canada, the third-party group behind the ads is run by Frank Smeenk, the chief executive of a Toronto-based mining exploration company.

The group filed interim financial returns with Elections Canada that show it spent $59,890 on billboards in “select cities in Canada” and received $60,000 from Bassett & Walker International Inc., a company that specializes in the international trade of protein products.

Last week, Smeenk declined to comment on the billboard beyond what appeared in the Elections Canada filing. The Canadian Press attempted to reach Smeenk again on Friday, but he did not respond.

Similarly, messages left at Bassett & Walker were not returned.

Bernier officially launched the party’s national campaign Sunday at an event about two hours outside Montreal.

Polls suggest the party has around 4 per cent of voter support heading into the October election, and thus far, Bernier has been excluded from the official leadership debates.

Negative reactions to the billboard were raised fast, especially in Halifax where local politicians took to Twitter to denounce both the board and Bernier.

Arshia Vosoughi’s family immigrated to Canada from Iran when he was seven years old. Vosoughi, who points out that his parents are doctors, says that there are many skilled immigrants who come to Canada from different countries.

“I think it’s ridiculous to say ‘no immigration,’” said Vosoughi. “It’s one of the least Canadian things I’ve seen in all my time in this country.”

Peace by Chocolate founder Tareq Hadhad, who came to Nova Scotia as a Syrian refugee in 2016, says that the billboard is both divisive and inaccurate.

“There is nothing called ‘mass immigration’ in Canada,” Hadhad told Global News in a phone interview Saturday.

“Saying ‘mass immigration’ is certainly trying to make an illusion to the public that, you know, like caravans and waves of millions of people trying to hit the border, coming through the airports, but this is not happening.”

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Pedestrian killed by car in Surrey

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One person has died after being struck by a car on Saturday night in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey, B.C.

RCMP say a pedestrian was hit by a vehicle around 10:34 p.m, near the busy intersection of 152 Street and Highway 10.

Police say the pedestrian was pronounced dead on scene.

Evidence markers dotted Highway 10 for several dozen metres west of the intersection where a white car sat with front end damage.

The intersection was closed to traffic overnight while collision analysts examined the scene.

Police have not announced any details on what caused the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, saw the vehicle beforehand, or has dash camera footage of the incident is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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Mississauga mayor statement after shooting in the city

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The mayor of Mississauga, Ont., says she’s “shocked and saddened” after a teenage boy was killed and five other people were wounded when gunfire erupted in the city west of Toronto on Saturday evening.

Bonnie Crombie called the incident a “senseless act of gun violence” and says her thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families.

Peel Regional Police Chief Chris McCord said at a news conference late Saturday night that according to witnesses, multiple suspects unleashed a barrage of gunfire from semi-automatic weapons near a parkette behind an apartment building at around 6:20 p.m.He said a 17-year-old old boy died at the scene and that five others – a 13-year-old, a 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds and a woman in her 50s – were injured.

McCord said one of the wounded was in serious condition and that the other four suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

No suspect information has been released as officers continued to canvass the area for surveillance footage and police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.

Crombie thanked first responders who rushed to the scene and she says she hopes to take action in response to the shooting.

“As a member of the police board, I am committed to ensuring Mississauga remains one of the safest cities by working to get illegal guns off our streets,” said Crombie in a statement.

McCord has said that “a lot” of shell casings were found scattered over a wide area and that several vehicles were hit by the gunfire.

He said it’s early in the investigation and that many questions about the incident remained unanswered, including the motive, whether the victims were targeted and whether the shooting was gang related.

A music video was being filmed near the scene of the shooting, but McCord said he didn’t know if it was in any way linked to the case.

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Police seeking 7 suspects in shooting in Mississauga

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A 17-year-old boy who was killed in a shooting in Mississauga on Saturday night was an innocent victim, Peel Regional Police say.

Peel Police Chief Chris McCord told reporters on Sunday that investigators believe there were seven shooters involved in gunfire that injured four other teens and a woman in her 50s in a parkette behind an apartment complex.

The shooting occurred on Darcel Avenue near Dunrankin Drive, in the area of Morning Star and Goreway Drive. Police were called to the scene at 6:22 p.m.

Officers have recovered more than 100 shell casings at the crime scene.

McCord said police also believe the shooting was motivated by a rap music video that was filmed in the parkette and released last week.

The teen boy, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene. The five injured people — a 13-year-old girl, a 16-year-old boy, and two 17-year-old boys — were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police say one of the injured people has been released from hospital and the remaining four are in stable condition

McCord said some of the injured are also believed to be innocent victims.

He said the shooting occurred as people in the parkette were setting up to shoot a music video and an ice cream truck was nearby.

No one is in custody, no suspects have been identified and officers are reviewing security camera video.

Police believe the shooters used semi-automatic weapons, but none of those weapons have been recovered.

Mayor says she is ‘deeply shocked’ by shooting

On Sunday morning, police canvassed the neighbourhood, knocking on doors in the hopes of finding witnesses and security camera video.

Officers also sent out a drone to obtain an aerial view of the crime scene and brought in a metal detector to scan for stray bullets in the grass.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement Sunday that her thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of this senseless act of gun violence in our city, it’s simply unacceptable. I urge anyone with information to contact police immediately,” Crombie said.

“As a member of the police board, I am committed to ensuring Mississauga remains one of the safest cities by working to get illegal guns off our streets.”

Crombie also thanked Peel police and paramedics who “swiftly” went to the scene.

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