‘Unacceptable’: Desjardins apologizes after Canadian flag used in Quebec Patriots’ Day poster

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Desjardins issues apology after controversial poster sparks outrage
WATCH: A controversial poster displayed at a number of Desjardins credit unions in Quebec continues to spark outrage. The financial institution went into damage control over the holiday weekend after a display including the Canadian flag made the rounds on social media. Global’s Dan Spector explains – May 21, 2024

Desjardins offered its “most sincere apologies” after it used the Canadian flag on a poster for the May long weekend officially known as National Patriots’ Day in Quebec.

The financial services company issued a mea culpa in a social media post on Monday after photos of the image circulated widely online.

“In addition to the measures that were taken during the weekend, we confirm that other meetings will follow so that this unacceptable situation does not happen again,” Desjardins wrote.

The sign noting holiday hours had a title referring to “Journée nationale des patriotes” — but it included a photo of the Canadian flag draped over the shoulders of a man. In Quebec, the holiday that coincides with Victoria Day marks a rebellion against the British in 1837-1838.

“As we quickly said as soon as this situation was brought to our attention, this poster should never have been posted,” Desjardins wrote. “This is an initiative taken by certain branches without the approval of Desjardins Group. As of Saturday morning, we asked all of the branches to check whether they had used this unauthorized poster, and if so, to remove it.”

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Prior to the apology, the Quebec organization was lambasted by both clients who spotted the poster in their local banks and the province’s political class.

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Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon questioned how the sign made it past Desjardins’ marketing and graphic teams. He had also called on the company to “take the situation seriously” and rectify it.

PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon writes about Desjardins using the Canada Flag in a National Patriots’ Day poster. Paul St-Pierre Plamondon/Twitter

Comedian Guy Nantel, who also ran in the PQ leadership race, said he has been a client of Desjardins for 50 years. He described it as a “hateful and shame ad” that he at first believed was a hoax.

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“I’m considering closing my accounts,” Nantel wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

with files from The Canadian Press

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