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Watchdog censures ad that compared Canadians to hostages over border closure

Ads bought by Florida man with property on Vancouver Island prompted viewer complaints
Ads run by a Florida man called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden to “free your hostages” and reopen the land border between the countries. (John Adams/YouTube)

Ad Standards Canada has censured two television advertisements paid for by a Florida man who owns property on Vancouver Island that claimed Canadians were “being held hostage” when the land border between Canada and the U.S. was closed due to COVID.

Two ads paid for by John Adams and friends took aim at U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, suggesting they were too afraid to lead on the issue and demanded Trudeau “free your hostages”.

“Use of hostage images and references, prominent use of the word “fear” and claims about governments keeping loved ones apart resulted in confusion and fear by viewers,” Ad Standards said. “The images together with the words used were an exploitation of fears and spread false information about the pandemic and vaccines.”

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Council members with Ad Standards Canada unanimously agreed that the ads were in violation of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. Under the complaint process, Ad Standards contacts advertisers and asks them to amend or withdraw offending advertisements. It’s not clear

Adams raised nearly $50,000 through GoFundMe to pay for the ads, which aired on networks in the U.S. and Canada. Adams stopped airing the ads after Canada loosened restrictions in June 2021. He even released a video thanking Trudeau for the move.

“Thank you for opening the border so we can get back to our family home in Canada. You will always be remembered as the leader who gave us our lives back,” the ad says.

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Black Press Media Staff

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