UPDATED: Cartoon controversy

John Brannen
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Harper, Nazi comparisons 'unfair, hateful,' says Cameron

PICTOU – Some readers of the Pictou Advocate were left wondering if a political cartoon went too far, including Justice Minister Peter MacKay.


Tyler Cameron says he was shocked to see a swastika flag flying over the Canadian Parliament buildings with the words ‘Harper’s Economic Action Plan’.

“I saw it yesterday and thought there must be a joke in there somewhere. But I just don’t get it, it’s hateful.”

Central Nova MP Peter MacKay also issued a statement.

“I would like to express my strong dismay and condemnation of the editorial cartoon published in the Pictou Advocate on March 5th.”

He said he was shocked to see the cartoon.

“This image is deeply offensive, outrageous, insulting and completely inappropriate. I call on all parties involved to make an unequivocal apology. 

“Above all, this image is deeply disrespectful to those who gave their lives to protect our way of life and defend the world from tyranny and oppression. The comparison to one of the most evil and murderous regimes in history is unacceptable and shows a stunning ignorance and insensitivity, in particular to veterans and the Jewish community. It also shows a lack of respect for the diversity, tolerance and inclusiveness that makes up the fabric our country”

 He said as Canadians, we enjoy a level of prosperity, as well as personal and democratic freedom that are second to none.

“Given recent events around the world such as Ukraine and ongoing struggles for even basic human rights in parts of the Middle East, the blessings we enjoy each and every day are even more poignant.

“I urge the author, and those who published this unacceptable and despicable cartoon, to reflect on our history, apologize to all readers, and exercise far better judgment moving forward.”

Jon Goldberg, Executive Director of the Atlantic Jewish Council, issued a statement as well addressing the cartoon.

"The tasteless and inappropriate use of the swastika to make a political point only trivializes the horrific crimes of the Nazis. Such a cartoon is offensive to the Jewish community, to all who suffered during WWII, and to Canadian veterans who sacrificed so much to liberate Europe from Nazi rule,” he wrote. “We hope that The Advocate will apologize for its disappointing decision to print this cartoon."

A piece did appear on The Advocate site later Thursday addressing the controversy.

“If our editorial cartoon in the March 5 edition of The Advocate has offended anyone, we sincerely apologize,” it reads. “It was certainly not our intention to offend our readers.”

It states the cartoon was simply meant as a satire or exaggeration on Harper’s Economic Action Plan and its implications for some segments of the community. The article stated that those are the views of the contributor and not necessarily that of The Advocate itself.

“We regret that the cartoon was not received in the same spirit with what it was intended.”

There is then a quote from the cartoonist, Rob Denton.

“The use of the swastika was simply aligning the Harper government’s policies with the Nazis. The fact is, Harper has violated virtually every element of his platform which is taking away the freedoms and rights of all Canadians, especially the disabled and elderly.”

He stated there are no religious connotations, no anti-semitism and no ethnic attacks – “just the suggestion that Canadian politics is headed to fascism.”



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Recent comments

  • Bill Murphy
    March 08, 2014 - 13:45

    Better Harper's policies than the spoiled commie brat turdo's. Unless that's more to your liking. Just remember that journalists weren't treated too well under Mao's lil tenure on Earth either.

  • Odin
    March 07, 2014 - 11:00

    Seems the CPC can dish it out but they can't take it. Did they apologize when Mr. Toews said " you're either with us, or you're with the child pornographers"? Implying of course that if you disagree with the CPC, you are a criminal.

  • John A.
    March 07, 2014 - 10:45

    This is a sad state of affairs when anyone thinks of Canada this way. But really the Harper Conservatives need to have a hard look in the mirror to find out why. This is a government designed on arrogance and bullying. They have twisted and distorted the truth so badly it is hardly recognizable anymore. They have discarded any Canadian who doesn't appear on their side of the poll numbers. I would say to Mr. MacKay "as you sow, so shall you reap".

  • Ben
    March 07, 2014 - 10:40

    I understand what the author ment to say and I say bravo.. And " He said as Canucks, we enjoy a level of prosperity, as well as personal and democratic freedom that are second to none." Thats was true ten years ago but since the cons rule is simply a talking point and factually incorrect.

  • Ben
    March 07, 2014 - 10:35

    I understand what the author ment to say and I say bravo..

  • Richard
    March 07, 2014 - 10:13

    Whatever your politics and/or opinion of our current federal government, the use of a swastika to make a political point is inappropriate, ignorant and just plain wrong.

  • Rosie
    March 07, 2014 - 09:44

    I have no problem with this cartoon I see what it says. I have heard Harper compared to Hitler right here in Pictou County. The Harper government doesn't care about our vetrans, closes libraires, stops our scientisis from talking, sells out our country to big oil, controls CBC, and controls the members with an iron hand and tries to control the RCMP. This Harper government is destroying Canada. We have submarines falling apart, need new jets, and ships and what is being done about it. Also where is all the money that people have paid into EI as premiums. A lot of money missing. Its is heartbreaking that we send our troops over to other countries to fight and when they return injured this government turns their back on them. I thought we had freedom of speech in Canada. The Advocate should not have to apologize. This is the opinion of the artist and we still have the right to our opinion. Harper is destroying Canada. When the First Nation walkers walked from Attawapiskat to Ottawa Harper didn't even have the decency to meet them and accept the snowshoes they wanted to present to him. Shows what kind of a person our PM is. And Peter didn't apologize for merging with the Reform party. Like someone else said, the Reformers can dish it out but don't like it happening to them. I for one support the Advocate.

  • David
    March 07, 2014 - 07:34

    I like a good bologna sandwich

  • Scott
    March 07, 2014 - 00:45

    Apology, has Stephen Harper ever apologized for anything? Has Peter MacKay ever apologized for lying about merging with the Reform Party? The Reformers can dish it out but they don't like it happening to them.

  • Birdj
    March 06, 2014 - 21:48

    I seem to remember it was the CPC who did a lot of name calling of the lowest order when Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to the Liberals. Does this make this OK? I think not!! But Pete MacKay has got a taste of what many Canadians think of his party.

  • Jimmy
    March 06, 2014 - 20:42

    If you look at how the harper government has forced it poilicies down the throat of canadians i would say they are no different than the natzi regimue. this is a awesome cartoon and obviously the harper government has take offense because it speak many truths.

  • james
    March 06, 2014 - 19:12

    well since harper rules with an iron fist basicly and cuts money from places he shouldnt like pensions and veteran funds. but doesnt take money from places he should like his own pocket and the pocket of other MLAs or from the big corporations

  • Open Your Eyes
    March 06, 2014 - 19:04

    Just to highlight some other comments on here : To the one not buying Advocate - well, I guess it's your loss too. This isn't about the Nazis. This is about Canada and the injustice we face as a nation from the Harper government. To Mike who posted about electing the PC: Technically, more Canadians voted against the CPC than those who voted for. It's how our system works. It is in no way a fair system. Look at BC's election in 2001 where the Liberals won all but two seats in the house but only received barely over half of the popular vote. This isn't a fair system by far.

  • A concern Pictonian
    March 06, 2014 - 18:51

    Well, I'll start off by saying that yes, this was taking the feeling of the county too far. Saying that, I want you all to look at this in its true form and what the illustrator was trying to project. This is coming from a place of hurt, of pain, and the feeling of overall injustice. We in Pictou County have just suffered a large loss to our job market with the job cuts at Michelin. A lot of families and individuals have been affected by this. We are losing a valuable enterprise. With job losses everywhere in the county, it is an understatement to say that Michelin's announcement was devastating. While we suffer, signs and ads surround us on the roads, on the internet, and on the TV about this "action plan" that the federal government has put forward. If this plan is so great, then how come it feels just like the opposite in Pictou County? How come benefits and jobs are disappearing? Recent changes in EI have wounded us. Several residents depend on seasonal work to get by. There isn't exactly jobs just waiting around in Pictou County. You're lucky if you can get a good paying job, let alone one that's steady. It seems that the Harper government is plotting against us, and the Maritimes in general. There's a tendency for them to support the West, especially Alberta - where, if you haven't guessed already, Mr. Harper is from. Wow, shocker. Environmental laws are being loosened. Companies who are 'sustainable' are polluting our lakes (just look at the pulp mill here and all the damage it has done to Boat Harbour) . The oil sands are advertised left and right, where are the Maritimes? This whole EI problem leads people to the one place where they will probably find work - Alberta. Honestly, looking at Harper's agenda makes me sick. The bias towards the western provinces is evident. Nova Scotia is losing jobs, population, and qualified professionals. Look no further than our doctor's offices to see the brain drain's effect there. We might like to think we matter, but in Harper's eyes, we don't. This comic, although not exactly how I would portray this, represents a lot more than just Michelin. It's the symbol of a corrupt government. Action plan? More like Alberta plan. It's about time that we stand up for our rights and elect a government that actually cares about the people, not the oil rich companies out west. On a final note, although I didn't see it mentioned here, I noticed on the CTV news article that the MacKay actually said he would unsubscribe from the Advocate. This is he latest mistake. Yes, they printed this. Yes, they make a mistake. So the this paper, but more on the grammar and spelling side than anything. The Advocate has been a staple in Pictou County for decades. It is the only (sorry News, but you might want to skip this part) paper in Pictou County that is our voice. Despite this cartoon, the Advocate is a genuine Pictonian paper that cares about us. I know from dealing first hand with both papers, the staff over at the Advocate are easier to deal with. They report news that matters to the county and its people, no matter what. I will stand by a paper that is local, whether they made a mistake or not. It is Peter MacKay's loss to have nationally declare that he will not support a local paper. He already lost my vote anyway. And to everyone here in Pictou County, and in Canada: Wake up and smell the roses. Our rights are violated. Our freedom is limited. We might not be technically in a dictatorship, but we sure are close.

  • Jeff
    March 06, 2014 - 18:36

    Guess everyone forgot about our freedom of speech.. Love it or loathe it.. this is the artists opinion. deal with it and stop crying about it.. There are 33 million others in this country, and a fair number of papers. Subscribe to one of those if you want your own opinions parroted back at you. Demanding an apology.?. Give me a break Peter.. It was your opinion NG needed a swat vehicle.. Did anyone demand an apology for assuming our community is in need of riot control.??

  • Marg MacLeod
    March 06, 2014 - 17:54

    whereas I am not a fan of the swastika, as it has come to represent a very controlling, unwavering and prejusticed views of one man that tried to control the world. On a smaller scale our current administation has pushed its outdated and narrow minded views on the people of Canada. For me I see this caption as a wake up call for us all. Do we want to see more of our freedoms and privileges disappear?

  • Marg MacLeod
    March 06, 2014 - 17:53

    whereas I am not a fan of the swastika, as it has come to represent a very controlling, unwavering and prejusticed views of one man that tried to control the world. On a smaller scale our current administation has pushed its outdated and narrow minded views on the people of Canada. For me I see this caption as a wake up call for us all. Do we want to see more of our freedoms and privileges disappear?

  • Anne
    March 06, 2014 - 17:24

    I would suggest the cartoonist learn the difference between Nazism and fascism.

  • Jac Norris
    March 06, 2014 - 16:17

    The grammar is so offensive.

  • Robert
    March 06, 2014 - 14:45

    Maybe the paper was trying illustrate the similiarity between the Nazi propaganda machine and the Harper Action Plan propaganda. I am not offended. I have considered the CPC to be a fascist party for some time now.

  • Daisee
    March 06, 2014 - 14:00

    Now if the banner was Canada's Rigged Election Act, it would have been totally appropriate.

  • Jeff
    March 06, 2014 - 13:59

    This is this brilliant Marketing move by the Advocate. Attracting national attention for a small publishing company.

  • I will not buy another Advocate
    March 06, 2014 - 13:33

    Very distasteful! Some knuckles should be smacked over this. I would expect better from the Murray's.

  • fmpsportsguy
    March 06, 2014 - 13:22

    Considering John Baird compared Russia's actions in Ukraine akin to the Nazis, peoples outrage that someone comparing the harper government is FAIR GAME! Now before you get upset, do a google/internet search for neo Nazis + ukraine and you might be shocked to see who the "world" is backing in that country!

  • NG Resident
    March 06, 2014 - 13:04

    If we forget the past we are doomed to relive it. I see nothing wrong with this cartoon.

  • RegReader
    March 06, 2014 - 12:59

    I guess any humour in this cartoon is lost on me, but hardly worth an apology.

  • Mike
    March 06, 2014 - 12:55

    Very poor judgement on the part of the Pictou Advocate. The word "advocate" is someone who speaks on your behalf, and the Pictou Advocate should not position itself with this type of mentality, as they do NOT speak for the rest of us. The other thing, is Strait, seems to refer to the Strait of Canso, or Northumberland Strait. Maybe this is the artist's jab at the fishing industry. Either that or he cannot spell Straight" correctly. Like them or not, the party currently in power is the PC, and were elected in a free vote in a democratic country. Not something that the nazi flag represents.

  • Jim
    March 06, 2014 - 12:15

    Not a CPC fan but that cartoon is beyond the Pale.

  • Just One Guy with. One Voice
    March 06, 2014 - 12:09

    Nope, I disagree....I don't see the need for an apologies at all. This is one artist's view on certain events, and their opinion is no less important than anyone else's. It's called Freedom of Speech, boys and Girls...... ever heard of it?!

  • cyler tameron
    March 06, 2014 - 11:51

    I have seen several instances of him compared to hitler. Ask our first nation what they think of him and his govt . Ask someone who cares about our enviroment what they think . I dont know why anyone in this part of the contry especially would support him or hos cronies. Looks good on him . Things will only get worse under the harper dictatorship

  • David Mitchell
    March 06, 2014 - 10:09

    I totally agree and regardless of anyone's feelings toward this government or past governments, this was disturbing and disgusting. I hope not only will an apology be coming from the paper but I would also like to see the artist AND the editor write a full letter in the paper on why this was wrong.