Liberals’ gun registry ad hits a wee rough patch
Party goes back to drawing board after image of U.S. officer altered to include Ottawa police symbol
BY GLEN MCGREGOR, THE OTTAWA CITIZENMAY 7, 2010
Two new Liberal ads in support of the federal long gun registry feature an image of a U.S. police officer electronically altered to include a shoulder patch worn by the Ottawa Police Service.
The distinctive crest appears to have been edited to remove the word Ottawa, but the image of a crossed shield with orange embellishments, flanked by golden leaves, would make it recognizable to residents of Ottawa.
The officer also wears a police radio, a holstered gun, and a silver badge on her right lapel, indicating the original image has been flipped horizontally. The image is accompanied by the phrase, “Police officers say the gun registry works.”
The Citizen traced the picture to a series of stock photos sold by an agency based in North Carolina. A photo editor with the Ron Chapple Studios said the model is a real police officer serving with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police force.
The image also appears in a television spot unveiled Thursday as debate over a Conservative MP’s bill to scrap the registry meets increasingly vocal opposition.
The ads promote the new Liberal policy that would eliminate the registration fee for gun owners, simplify the forms they must fill out, and decriminalize the failure to register.
Michael O’Shaughnessy, a Liberal spokesman, said the crest was added to the photo to cover up the word “POLICE,” which would have appeared backwards when the original stock image was flipped.
“It was added without the intention to signify the Ottawa police,” he said in an e-mail, “but just to avoid any possible confusion, we’re going to remove the crest from the print and video ads.”
Thursday night, altered versions of the ad appeared on the party’s website, with the logo blotted out of the officer’s shoulder patch.
It does not appear Ottawa police were consulted about the use of the logo in the ads. A police spokesman said he knew nothing about the ads and didn’t recognize the woman who appears in them.
While the association representing Canada’s police chiefs supports the gun registry, the use of the logo in a Liberal ad could draw the force into a political debate.
“It sounds like this ad is an attempt to fool Canadians on the gun registry,” said Nepean-Carleton Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre.
“The Liberal party is trying to mislead Canadians into forgetting that many police officers oppose the wasteful, billion-dollar Liberal gun registry.”
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police held a press conference Thursday to again say the registry helps them solve crime and protect officers. But Candice Hoeppner, the Conservative MP who sponsored a private member’s bill to scrap the registry, countered with a press conference accompanied by retired police officers who favour shutting it down.
Advertising agencies used by political parties often use stock photos because it’s cheaper and faster than hiring a Canadian photographer.
In the last election campaign, a Conservative TV ad hyping the Harper government’s $1,200 a year child tax benefit featured a picture of a young family that, the Citizen discovered, was actually from Southern California. The photographer admitted that the father in the picture was a Democrat.
In the same campaign, the Liberals used a photograph of an elderly gentleman in hospital to illustrate the health care section of its policy platform. That picture was a stock shot taken by a photographer in Nuremberg, Germany.
Credit due where credit is due. Thanks for pointing that out and looking into it Mr. McGregor.