Thunder Bay

Tamara Johnson election ad 'shocks' Anishinabek Nation

A full page Thunder Bay newspaper ad that appears to take aim at First Nations' treaty rights is sparking some outrage.

Chronicle Journal defends 'business relationship' with advertisers

A full page Thunder Bay newspaper ad that appears to take aim at First Nations' treaty rights is sparking some outrage. 

The ad, published in the Tuesday Chronicle-Journal by Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson, has left some questioning why the paper agreed to run it.

"When I see things like that, it's just, it's stunning,”  said Anishinabek Nation communications director Maurice Switzer.

Statements in the ad include: "Crown lands are public lands. Not native lands." "Help me stop this doctrine of entitlement."

“[It’s] shocking that, in this day and age, an organization purporting to have some media expertise would allow that sort of content ... in their pages," Switzer said, adding the statements in the ad are factually incorrect.

Switzer has a long history in the newspaper industry, including work as publisher of five different daily newspapers.

"If they print, in any form, information that is erroneous or out in left field or racist or whatever, they have to be answerable for it,” he said of Thunder Bay's daily newspaper.

An election ad that appeared in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal has drawn a rebuke. The full-page ad for Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson appears to take aim at First Nations treaty rights. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Advertising 'a business relationship'

But Chronicle-Journal publisher Clint Harris said election ads express different opinions — even if the content is upsetting. He said the ads ensure voters are informed about candidates' views and positions.

"It's important that we inform the public what ... [the candidates'] opinions are ... and when it's advertising, it's a business relationship. They write an ad and they let the community know what it is that they believe in," Harris said.

"People have the right to run their political ads and there are always going to be biases and sometimes upsetting opinions. If we didn't run the perspectives and people find out about a candidate later — what their perspective was — that would be a terrible position to be in."

'Unconscionable form of media proprietorship'

Switzer reiterated the offensive statements in the ad aren’t just a matter of opinion, rather, there’s “a lot of the information about Crown lands and treaty rights and those things ... that's an incorrect matter of fact." 

He also said the ad falsely paints First Nations people as lawbreakers by using terms like "illegal" blockades and "no group of people are above the laws of Ontario.”

"This is just unconscionable drivel,” Switzer continued.

“But someone in the advertising department ... will accept payment for the same kind of drivel. That's just the most hypocritical ... unconscionable form of media proprietorship that I can imagine.”