Some readers of the Pictou Advocate were shocked to see a swastika flag flying over the Canadian Parliament buildings with the words ‘Harper’s Economic Action Plan’ in a political cartoon published in Thursday's Pictou Advocate.
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,” McKay said.
“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.”
The Advocate said 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.”
Cartoonist Rob Denton also issued an explanation.
“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.”