Liberals defend Chinese Facebook ads on Andrew Scheer’s gun policy

Click to play video: 'Federal Election 2019: Trudeau asked about Chinese language Facebook ad'
Federal Election 2019: Trudeau asked about Chinese language Facebook ad
WATCH: Trudeau responds to questions about Chinese Facebook ad – Oct 17, 2019

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau defended his party’s use of Facebook ads Thursday, saying they do not feature misleading information on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s gun control plan.

“We have made the commitment to ban military-style assault weapons across this country. Andrew Scheer has clearly said that he will not,” Trudeau told reporters at a campaign stop in Trois-Rivières, Que. “I pass the ball to him and give him the floor.

“Will he ban assault weapons? If he does, we are happy to withdraw any ads to point out that he doesn’t want to ban assault weapons.”

The ads, which appeared online this week, are written in Chinese. One ad shows Scheer with the word “Fake” stamped across his face.

A Liberal Facebook ad in Chinese attacks Andrew Scheer’s gun policy
A Liberal Facebook ad in Chinese attacks Andrew Scheer’s gun policy. Screenshot

The caption above the photo reads: “Take note! Reports in the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun say the Conservative party is releasing false advertising aimed at (ethnic) Chinese community.”

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Parties spreading misleading messages about each other

Another ad features a photo of an assault rifle. The caption, when translated, says, “Once the Conservatives are in power, these assault rifles will spread to the streets. The Liberal party will strengthen gun laws and crackdown on gun crimes.”

The text in the blue portion says, “The Conservatives want looser gun laws” while the text in the red portion says, “The Liberals will strengthen restrictions on firearms.”

A Liberal Facebook ad in Chinese attacks Andrew Scheer’s gun policy
A Liberal Facebook ad in Chinese attacks Andrew Scheer’s gun policy. Screenshot

A third ad shows Scheer’s face on a blue background and Trudeau’s face on a red background.

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The translated caption reads: “Andrew Scheer cozies up to the gun lobby. Their plan helps the gun lobby but does nothing to keep your kids from becoming victims of gun violence.”

In an email statement to Global News, Conservative spokesman Simon Jefferies listed promises the party has made on gun laws under its “A Safe Canada” policy.

“Rather than going after the violent criminals shooting up our streets, Justin Trudeau is senselessly targeting law-abiding farmers, hunters, and sport shooters,” Jefferies said.

“Criminals do not register their firearms, and they will not comply with these new rules. Justin Trudeau’s approach also fails to introduce stricter penalties for criminals who smuggle guns across the border and into Canadian cities,” the statement added.

A Facebook spokesperson told Global News in an email the ads do not violate the community standards or advertising policies.

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have made promises on gun control during the election.

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On Oct. 4, Scheer promised to get Canada’s border agency to do more to try and stop illegal guns from crossing into Canada from the United States.

The party has also pledged to repeal the Liberals’ Bill C-71, which includes a system for background checks, saying it unfairly targets farmers and hunters rather than criminals.

The Liberals have promised to work with municipalities on the issue, giving them the authority to ban handguns in their communities. Trudeau has also promised to ban all “military-style assault rifles” — including the AR-15 rifle, which has been used in repeated mass shootings over recent years.

The Conservatives faced criticism for a similar situation last week, when Scheer defended his party’s decision to run Facebook advertisements claiming the Liberals plan to legalize hard drugs.

The Liberal platform does not mention legalizing hard drugs, but Liberal candidates have mentioned it during the campaign.

“This is something that is very important to Canadians to know about,” he said on Oct. 12. “We are telling them that these are the types of things Liberals speculate about before the election, and then implement after the election.”

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Fighting Disinformation: How online ‘bots’ target federal election campaigns

The first ad to make the claim began appearing on Oct. 6 before it was removed for violating Facebook’s advertising policies. The ad features an image of a hand using a razor blade to cut lines of a white, powdered substance on a mirrored surface.

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A second ad then appeared on Oct. 8 and appears to still be running on the social media platform. It includes a picture of what appears to be large packages of drugs along with police evidence markers.

“Before Trudeau legalized marijuana, he now intends to legalize hard drugs!” both ads say in simplified Chinese. “If you want to get the latest Chinese version of the news, please like our FB page!”

Global News has reached out to Facebook Canada on whether it intends to review the Liberal ads.

— With files from Global News reporter Sean Boynton

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