Conservatives take flak over Heritage Minutes parody ad video

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The federal Conservative party temporarily deleted a political attack ad parodying the Heritage Minutes, after receiving a request from the organization that produces the historical TV segments, before re-posting the video with a disclaimer. 

The video, entitled Liberal Scandals: Part of Our Heritage, was posted to leader Andrew Scheer’s Twitter and Facebook accounts Saturday night.

By the next morning, Historica Canada — the non-partisan organization that makes the videos — released a statement calling for the removal of the video. 

« While we often welcome parodies of the Minutes, we do not approve of them being used for partisan political purposes, » it reads. 

The video was deleted in the afternoon, before being re-posted with a disclaimer. 

Anthony Wilson-Smith, the president and CEO of Historica, told CBC News he was advised of the video by his staff Sunday morning. Even with the newly added disclaimer, Wilson-Smith said the Conservative ad runs « counter to the spirit » of the heritage commercials. 

The Conservative spoof used similar styles of narration, graphics and historical photos to those in the official Heritage Minutes spots, but the Tory segment lashes out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet for various ethical and conflict-of-interest breaches. 

It details the prime minister’s breach of ethics laws for his vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island, the violation of conflict of interest rules by then-fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc when he awarded a lucrative Arctic surf clam licence to a company linked to his wife’s cousin, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau stalling to disclose a private corporation that owns a villa in southern France that he shares with his wife. 

It also criticized Minister Jane Philpott for using the luxury driving services of a political supporter. The ethics commissioner cleared her of any wrongdoing in the spending controversy.

‘Obliged’ to look at legal action in the coming days

Conservative spokesman Cory Hann told CBC News the party understood how it could be mistaken for a real Historica creation. 

« We wouldn’t want it mistaken for a real production by Historica Canada, which typically showcase prouder moments in Canadian history, » he said. 

A revised video appeared on social media in the early evening, with the opening moments stating that « the following video is a parody. While it depicts actual events, it is not associated with Historica Canada in any way. »

Watch: The deleted video of the Conservative’s Heritage Minutes parody

The Conservative Party created this attack ad parody of a popular TV segment called Heritage Minutes. Historica Canada requested it be deleted, and it subsequently was. 1:00

That’s not enough for Historica’s CEO Wilson-Smith. He is asking for a full apology, but says he has not yet heard from the Conservative party. 

It’s the first time, to his knowledge, that Historica videos have been used for partisan activities, he said.

He said his organization has enjoyed a good relationship with all political parties for years, but this impacts the existing rapport with the Conservatives. 

To him, it puts Historica’s reputation on the line. Their funding — a mix of private and public money — would be in jeopardy if their messaging seems politically skewed one way or another, he said. 

If they don’t get the resolution they’re looking for in the coming days, Wilson-Smith says the organization will be « obliged » to explore legal options for copyright infringement and violation of intellectual property.

« It’s certainly something we can’t allow to just happen quietly, we would never want to see it happening again by any party. »

Heritage Minutes are 60-second short films depicting significant people and events in Canada’s history.

Some of the 90 episodes tell the stories of people such as author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Terry Fox, artist Emily Carr and Sir John A. Macdonald.

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Tories delete parody ad as Heritage Minutes contemplates legal action

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The federal Conservative party has deleted a political attack ad parodying the Heritage Minutes, after receiving a request from the organization that produces the historical TV segments.

The video, entitled  Liberal Scandals: Part of Our Heritage, was posted to leader Andrew Scheer’s Twitter and Facebook accounts Saturday night.

By the next morning, Historica Canada — the non-partisan organization that makes the videos — released a statement calling for the removal of the video. 

« While we often welcome parodies of the Minutes, we do not approve of them being used for partisan political purposes, » it reads. 

The video was deleted in the afternoon.

Anthony Wilson-Smith, the president and CEO of Historica, told CBC News he was advised of the video by his staff Sunday morning. He said the template in the final frames of the video appears to be an exact replica of their old branding. 

The Conservative spoof used similar styles of narration, graphics and historical photos to those in the official Heritage Minutes spots, but the Tory segment lashes out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet for various ethical and conflict-of-interest breaches.

It details the prime minister’s breach of ethics laws for his vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island, the violation of conflict of interest rules by then-fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc when he awarded a lucrative Arctic surf clam licence to a company linked to his wife’s cousin,and Finance Minister Bill Morneau stalling to disclose a private corporation that owns a villa in southern France that he shares with his wife.

‘Obliged’ to look at legal action in the coming days

Party spokesman Cory Hann told CBC News the party understood how it could be perceived as a real Historica creation. 

« We wouldn’t want it mistaken for a real production by Historica Canada, which typically showcase prouder moments in Canadian history, » he said. 

Hann added that an edited version that makes clear the ad is not a Historica production would be reposted later.

Watch: The deleted video of the Conservative’s Heritage Minutes parody

The Conservative Party created this attack ad version of a popular TV segment called Heritage Minutes. The company requested it be deleted, and it subsequently was. 1:00

But the removal of the video isn’t nearly enough recompense for Historica’s CEO. 

Wilson-Smith is asking for a full apology, but says he has not yet heard from the Conservative party. 

It’s the first time, to his knowledge, that Historica videos have been used for partisan activities, he said.

He said his organization has enjoyed a good relationship with all political parties for years, but this impacts the existing rapport with the Conservatives. 

To him, it puts Historica’s reputation on the line. Their funding — a mix of private and public money — would be in jeopardy if their messaging seems politically skewed one way or another, he said. 

If they don’t get the resolution they’re looking for in the coming days, Wilson-Smith says the organization will be « obliged » to explore legal options for copyright infringement and violation of intellectual property.

« It’s certainly something we can’t allow to just happen quietly, we would never want to see it happening again by any party. »

Heritage Minutes are 60-second short films depicting significant people and events in Canada’s history.

Some of the 90 episodes tell the stories of people such as author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Terry Fox, artist Emily Carr and Sir John A. Macdonald.

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‘Miraculous’ close call sees sanding truck smash into cars minutes after family got out

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A dramatic video posted online shows a City of Calgary sanding truck as it plows into three vehicles, just minutes after a family of three had been sitting inside one.

The crash was caught on home security video and happened around 1 a.m. Monday in the southeast Calgary community of Legacy.

A city spokesperson confirmed a sanding truck hit the parked vehicles, and that the driver is an employee of the city and was uninjured.

A home security camera captured the moment a City of Calgary sanding truck hit three parked cars on Dec. 31, 2018. 0:18

Calgary Police and the city are investigating.

Josh Capps said he was asleep when his daughter woke him up to tell him there had been an collision outside their home.

« I looked out her window and saw the whole thing. It looked like vehicles everywhere, » he said.

Capps’ Chevy Tahoe — the first to be hit — had been totalled, as well as his friend’s Jeep and a neighbour’s Honda Civic.

« It was just completely destroyed, like the whole front end was smashed all the way up to the windshield. »

‘Counting our blessings’

It wasn’t until he reviewed his home security footage that he realized just how close of a call the crash was.

Two friends and their one-year-old child had been sitting in the Jeep right behind Capps’ Tahoe. The video shows them in the vehicle just nine minutes before the crash, and Capps speculates it took them a few minutes to unload the baby and Christmas gifts from the car to come inside.

The driver of the sanding truck was stunned but unhurt, Josh Capps said. (Josh Capps)

« It’s quite miraculous … I mean, if they were to stop for gas or something, you never know, right? » he said. « The whole thing was basically counting our blessings that nothing bad really happened. »

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District 31: faire reculer 30 ans de lutte contre le VIH en 40 minutes

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La Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida (COCQ-SIDA) se réjouit habituellement que des enjeux entourant le VIH soient abordés par des oeuvres de fiction, notamment des émissions de télévision populaires diffusées aux heures de grande écoute. Mais encore faut-il que ces enjeux soient traités de manière conforme à la réalité et de manière non stigmatisante.

Alors qu’ils avaient la chance d’aborder ces enjeux de manière novatrice et sensible, les épisodes 52 et 53 de la télésérie District 31, diffusés les 6 et 10 décembre derniers sur les ondes de Radio-Canada, ont plutôt véhiculé de fausses informations sur le droit criminel applicable à la non-divulgation de la séropositivité, en plus de nourrir la stigmatisation des personnes vivant avec le VIH.

L’une des trames de ces épisodes tournait autour d’une femme vivant avec le VIH qui n’aurait pas informé ses partenaires, dont son mari, de son statut sérologique avant d’avoir avec eux des relations sexuelles. À plusieurs reprises au cours des deux épisodes, l’un des personnages martèle l’idée que d’« avoir des relations sexuelles sans divulguer qu’on est séropositif, c’est criminel ». C’est faux.

Vulgariser de manière aussi grotesque l’état du droit, lequel est pourtant clair, ne peut être aucunement justifié par quelconque exigence dramaturgique. Le critère développé par la Cour suprême en 2012 dans les arrêts de principe R. c. Mabior et R. c. D.C. est le suivant : une personne séropositive a l’obligation de divulguer son statut sérologique avant une relation sexuelle comportant une « possibilité réaliste » de transmission du VIH. Pour la Cour, il n’y aura pas de « possibilité réaliste » (et donc, pas d’obligation de divulgation) lorsqu’un condom sera utilisé et que la personne vivant avec le VIH aura une charge virale faible ou indétectable.

De généraliser la criminalisation de la non-divulgation de la séropositivité en faisant dire aux personnages que toute non-divulgation est criminelle, c’est un grave manque de rigueur, tant de la part des auteurs que du diffuseur, et ne contribue en rien à améliorer la perception des personnes vivant avec le VIH auprès du grand public. D’invoquer que la jurisprudence sur la question est « plus large que les seuls arrêts de la Cour suprême », certes. Mais aucune décision de justice subséquente n’est venue criminaliser toute non-divulgation préalable, bien au contraire.

De plus, en abordant la question du secret professionnel, les auteurs et auteures de la série font dire à l’un des personnages qu’un « médecin a l’obligation d’alerter » lorsqu’un de ses patients représente un « danger pour la sécurité publique », que cette obligation découle d’une décision de la Cour suprême du Canada et que « c’est dit noir sur blanc ». Alors qu’on bafoue les enseignements de la plus haute cour du pays sur la question de la criminalisation, on l’instrumentalise ici pour essayer de donner une légitimité à une obligation créée de toutes pièces par les auteurs et auteures de la série. La Cour suprême a peut-être clarifié les circonstances permettant à un professionnel de lever son secret professionnel, mais jamais ne l’oblige à le faire.

Ajoutez à cela qu’on fait dire aux personnages, dans l’épisode 52, qu’un médecin qui a une « conscience sociale » n’hésitera pas à divulguer le statut sérologique de ses patients dès lors que la police le lui demande, même sans mandat, et vous venez d’alimenter la méfiance de plusieurs personnes envers les services de santé et de dépistage.

Une représentation stigmatisante

Finalement, nous ne pouvons passer sous silence la manière dont les épisodes 52 et 53 dressent le portrait des personnes vivant avec le VIH. On les présente à la fois comme des menaces à la « sécurité publique » et un « danger pour la santé publique ». Or, et de manière plus choquante, les auteurs et auteures de la série n’ont eu aucun scrupule à qualifier le personnage vivant avec le VIH de « tueuse en série », et ce, par le seul nombre de ses conquêtes et par son statut sérologique.

De fait, District 31 a associé les personnes vivant avec le VIH qui osent avoir une vie sexuelle normale à des monstres. La série n’a, à aucun moment, jugé approprié de nuancer la situation, notamment eu égard aux moyens de protection utilisés ou non, ni même sur les risques réels de transmission.

Alors même que l’on sait qu’un condom est à lui seul efficace pour prévenir la transmission du VIH. Alors même que l’on sait que, lorsqu’un traitement antirétroviral est pris (c’est habituellement le cas lorsque la personne est suivie par un médecin, comme dans l’épisode), la quantité de virus dans le sang d’une personne vivant avec le VIH peut diminuer à un point tel que le virus ne peut plus se transmettre. Au Canada, 91 % des personnes séropositives qui sont traitées ont une charge virale indétectable et ne peuvent donc pas transmettre le VIH à leur partenaire.

La responsabilité du diffuseur

La politique des programmes de Radio-Canada prévoit que le contenu des émissions doit s’appuyer sur une recherche minutieuse et un contrôle rédactionnel rigoureux. Elle prévoit aussi que les équipes de création doivent s’abstenir de propager des stéréotypes dommageables et gratuits. Ces lacunes dans la vérification, notamment par des juristes ou par les communautés concernées, des informations contenues et présentées dans ces épisodes, méritent donc rectification.

Quelques jours après le 1er décembre, Journée mondiale de lutte contre le sida, alors que nous avons célébré les avancées scientifiques, alors que nous avons collectivement réfléchi au chemin qu’il reste à parcourir pour que cesse la stigmatisation persistante à l’égard des personnes vivant avec le VIH, ces épisodes de District 31 sont une insulte à la lutte menée depuis tant d’années.

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How the final minutes of the Leafs’ William Nylander showdown played out

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ST. PAUL, MINN.—When Morgan Rielly heard that teammate William Nylander broke a contract impasse with a phone call to Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas just a half-hour before the signing deadline, and that the final documents were delivered with only minutes to go, he laughed.

“That’s classic Willie,” said Rielly. “We were joking that he was probably sleeping or something. Love him. He’s calm, collected.”

The first busload of Leafs arrived at the Xcel Energy Center for their Saturday night game in Minnesota, it turned out, just when Nylander called Dubas to work out a deal with the clock ticking toward the 5 p.m. Eastern deadline.

Nylander’s teammates were just as on edge as any Leaf fan, and Dubas himself.

“We got their signed copy of the contract back at 3:52 Central time (4:52 p.m. Eastern),” said Dubas. “It was agreed to, but there were some slight variations that needed to be made and sent, emailed over there, sent back in the right order and send it to the league.

Dubas told his staff: six years with a salary-cap hit of $6.97 million (all dollars U.S.) in years two through six, when the cap crunch could hurt.

“I talked to William throughout,” said Dubas. “Obviously we met throughout, talked on the phone, texted, stayed in touch. I know people made it seem contentious, and at points maybe it was, but once he gets back here and gets rolling it’ll all be gone. We’re thrilled to have him back.”

Rielly said he was following the Leafs’ PR director, Steve Keogh, looking for information.

“We had our media guys checking in and we were annoying probably, asking for updates,” said Rielly. “I was with Steve and he was on his computer, and I looked at the words he was typing (for the press release announcing the deal). So I sprinted to the room to tell them I know what happened — and I didn’t tell anybody.”

That was left for Leafs coach Mike Babcock, said Mitch Marner.

“Babs popped out of the office and said ‘We signed him,’” said Marner. “And then, of course, everyone nowadays just goes right to our phone. So about 20 of us walk over, grab our phones. Next thing you know, you see the signing.”

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Teammates were texting Nylander as well as friends and family. “I texted him right away, said ‘Congrats,’” said Marner.

It was night-time in Sweden when it was all over.

“It was nice to just lay down and get some sleep for once when everything was over,” Nylander told Sportbladet on Sunday at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm). “It’s been a sick process, but now I’m just happy to go back there and get to play.”

He’s expected back at practice on Monday, but when he plays is another question. The best guess is that he’ll be ready for Saturday’s contest in Boston.

Rielly knows better than most about what Nylander was going through. The defenceman signed a six-year, $30-million extension at the end of the 2015-16 season after elongated talks with then-GM Lou Lamoriello.

“It’s good peace of mind to know you don’t have to do it again for another couple of years,” Rielly said of the long-term deal. “It’s not enjoyable. That’s the biggest misunderstanding. It’s not at all comfortable.

“It was happening over the course of the year … and I didn’t enjoy it. For him, I’m sure he wasn’t enjoying it. He just wants to play. I’m sure he’s going to be happy to come home, be excited, and hopefully he can put the puck in the net.”

Centre Auston Matthews, who missed a month with a shoulder injury, said it would take Nylander a bit of time to get into real game shape.

“It’s the same thing coming back from injury,” said Matthews. “You need a couple of games to get going. I’m sure he’s excited to get going.”

Marner was a bit more optimistic.

“That guy’s a freak, the stuff he does on the ice. I’m sure he’s been keeping up (fitness-wise) in Sweden.

“He’s a big part of this team. Having him back is going to add more fire to this team and make us even deeper.”

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The last man: Canadian WWI soldier died at 2 minutes to peace

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George Lawrence Price died on a Monday. It was a rainy day whose hours were almost evenly split between war and peace. And it was a terrible day to die.

That Monday marked both the end of the long suffering of the First World War, and of the Canadian private’s short life. His premature death, just minutes shy of a tenuous peace, was no more or less tragic than that of countless others killed during the course of the war — or afterward, because of it.

But being the last Canadian and Commonwealth soldier to die in the war to end all wars — just as so many people were celebrating — lifted him out of almost-certain anonymity.

His death on Nov. 11, 1918, ultimately made him a symbol of the futility of conflict.

George Lawrence Price was eventually buried in St. Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons, Belgium. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

Before all that, George Price, the civilian, lived an unremarkable life.

Son of Annie and James Price, he grew up in what is now Port Williams, N.S. As a young man, he moved west, ending up for a time with Canadian Pacific Railway in Moose Jaw, Sask.

He made headlines there for an unfortunate aside: Stealing « a quantity of house effects, » including dishes and linen, from his landlady. The value of the goods? A then-significant $25. He served one month in prison with hard labour.

It was also there that he joined the army. As a soldier in the 28th North West Battalion, Price served in the thick of the Canadian effort leading to the end of the war, according to Tim Cook, author and historian at the Canadian War Museum.

« He served throughout the Hundred Days campaign, » said Cook, in reference to a series of successful Canadian battles in which they suffered heavy casualties.

According to his personnel record, Price was also hospitalized for a month after a gas attack in France.

The Canadian soldiers who made it to the end were « exhausted, » said Cook. « They had seen their comrades, their best friends killed. They had buried them in shallow graves. »

Letters sent home

Like many around him on that Monday, Price was a conscripted soldier — drafted at 24, and without a wife or children. He wrote home diligently, sending stoic and hopeful postcards to his little sister, Florence.

« Just a line to let you know I still think of you, » he wrote in one. « I will see you someday. »

In his letters to his mother, Price revealed he was a reluctant warrior.

« He didn’t want to shoot anybody, » said George Barkhouse, Price’s nephew and namesake, who turned 90 last month.

A last-minute mission

Early Monday, the Canadians had just taken the Belgian village of Havré, on the outskirts of the newly liberated Mons, a city that still today remembers both Canadians and Price for their sacrifices.

At 6:30 a.m. that Monday, the Canadian Corps received official word telling them the fighting would stop that day — an armistice that would come at 11 that morning.

Most of the units would have heard by runner or telegram by 9:30 a.m., Cook said.

« They had about two hours to know that the war would be over. And most of the officers simply said to the soldiers … ‘Find a hole in the ground and stay there. Don’t expose yourself, don’t endanger your life,' » he said.

« They understood that this was the end of a very long and costly war. And yet for some reason, Pte. Price was leading a small patrol to the east of Mons. »

A view of the George Price Footbridge, which sits close to the spot where the Canadian private was believed to have been killed on Nov. 11, 1918. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

For Price and a handful of other soldiers, the war went on. And there are a few versions of what exactly happened with Price that morning.

According to one account, by Pte. Art Goodmurphy, Price suggested they go sweep some buildings sitting across a narrow canal in Ville-sur-Haines to look for German soldiers.

Five soldiers walked across the small bridge and arrived at one home, kicking down a door to enter. While inside, German machine guns came alive, picking at the bricks of the house.

For these German soldiers, too, the war had not yet ended.

As the Canadians ventured back out, Price was shot by a sniper. On the inside his uniform, he was wearing a delicate flower knitted by his fiancée.

Art Goodmurphy recounts how Canadian Private George Lawrence Price was shot and died in his arms on Nov. 11, 1918 — the last soldier of the British Empire to be killed in action in WWI. (CBC archives) 2:22

« All of a sudden — BANG. One shot came from all the way up the street. Got hit right through the back and to the heart, » recalled Goodmurphy.

Various accounts mention a young woman who ran over and tried to help. They note that the lady of the house also tried to comfort Price.

But he went quickly: Price was dead — just a month shy of his 26th birthday.

‘The war is over!’

Goodmurphy reported the death to his major. « The war is over! … The war is over! » the major replied. « What the hell did you go across there for? »

By Goodmurphy’s telling, Price never knew an armistice was imminent. « He was just doing his job. »

A « Killed in Action » report filled out afterward records Price’s death at three minutes before the armistice took hold — and ahead of the church bells that echoed across Mons.

Other accounts — including an inscription on his old headstone, now housed at a museum in Mons — say it was just two minutes before: 10:58 a.m.

Learn more about how George Price left a lasting legacy in the region where he died:

This year’s Remembrance Day marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. In this weeks Dispatch, the CBC’s Nahlah Ayed travels to Belgium to bring us the story of Canadian Private George Price, the last British Empire soldier killed in the First World War. 9:55

In another version, Price had crossed the bridge to say hello to a young woman who had waved to him, perhaps for a kiss or a handshake.

« It’s interesting we focus on Price and what his death means, but we don’t, in fact, have a clear picture of how he died, » said Cook.

But on the other side of the ocean, what was clear was that the jubilance of that Monday was short-lived for Price’s family, who had joined countless others that morning, gathering at the local park to celebrate.

« The war was over and [the family were] having a real good time, » said Barkhouse. « They got home and found out Uncle George had been killed. Pretty darn rough. »

Buried alongside enemy soldiers

Price was eventually buried in the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, which is also the resting place for several German soldiers.

Now, 100 Remembrance Days later, a new monument is being unveiled in Price’s honour in the city of Le Roeulx, across the canal from where he died, just under a footbridge also named after him. Barkhouse will be attending the ceremony with his granddaughter, Sylvia.

After a lifetime of telling the story, the pain lingers for Barkhouse, heir to the grief and love of the uncle he never knew.

George Barkhouse, Price’s nephew and namesake, was given this frame during a trip to Belgium in 2014. It contained the knitted flower his uncle was wearing on the day of his death and a handwritten thank you note from a Belgian family. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

On a trip to Belgium in 2014, Barkhouse also inherited an unexpected gift: That knitted flower worn by Price on the day he died. It’s still stained by his blood.

The flower was given to Barkhouse by a Belgian family, who had framed it and added these words:

« Today, Nov. 11, 1918, at the exact moment where the peace was signed, you fell for us. The last victim of a terrible conflict. Thank you George Price! »

Read Pte. George Lawrence Price’s war records:

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