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'You're judged by the friends you keep': PPC tries to distance themselves from anti-immigration billboard

A billboard featuring People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier appeared on the Bedford Highway on Friday morning
PPC billboard located on the Bedford Highway in Halifax (Matthew Moore/

A billboard featuring People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier appeared on the Bedford Highway on Friday morning.

After backlash on social media and in the press, the PPC confirmed that they have nothing to do with the billboard.

Instead, small print affiliates the large-scale sign with a third-party group called True North Strong & Free Advertising Corp.

But despite the lack of official affiliation, some political strategists think that the PPC could take a hit because of this.

"You're judged by the friends you keep," says Tim Powers, Vice-Chairman of Summa Strategies in Halifax.

The strategist tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show that it shows the true colours of people who may support the PPC.

"When their supporters are people who want to support and put up this stuff, it really exposes that party for what it's worth," he explains.

Powers thinks that the message on the billboard, "Say no to mass immigration," doesn't resonate well with Haligonians.

"I think it's not a view many of us share, and it's not a view that people want pushed by elected officials," he adds.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Halifax's Pier 21 was an immigration port for almost one million immigrants to Canada.

"With Halifax's history of Pier 21, [either] somebody doesn't know their history or they're clueless," Powers says. "Then again, maybe that tells you all you need to know about the People's Party of Canada if you were thinking about voting for them."

On the East Coast especially, Powers reinforces that we need immigration now more than ever.

"The reality in Atlantic Canada is we need more people," he explains. "Atlantic Canada is not going to survive in the long term without the continuous flow of immigrants into our region."

Powers says polls conducted by his company, Abacus Data, is conducting polling to see how people feel about the word "immigration."

"It's become such a loaded, politically weaponized word to express people's anxieties around the economy, their fear of change," he says.

The political strategist says whoever approved the billboard knows that anti-immigration sentiments target people's insecurities.

"Anybody who's doing any advertising knows that using the word immigration and the phrase mass immigration is like waving a red flag because of the way it's been adapted in the vernacular for negative purposes."

But Powers has been happy to see the reaction of Haligonians to the advertisement.

"I think the reaction again that a lot of Nova Scotians are having to this sign is a good one," he says. "Their message is just intolerant and good for people for calling it out."

Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

After graduating from journalism at King's, Victoria Walton now works in the film industry and as's weekend editor.
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