harper-wynne-fake-sign_thumb This article is more than 4 years old

Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown Launches Attack Ad Using Photoshopped ‘Stop Harper’ Sign

A photo of a stop sign used in the PC leader's latest attack ad is not real. As a matter of fact, the stop sign isn't even from Ontario

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is running a new attack ad on Facebook using a doctored photo of a vandalized stop sign.

The ad features an image of a defaced stop sign attacking Premier Kathleen Wynne, asking unsuspecting Facebook users to follow Brown’s page and “help me stop Premier Wynne’s reckless policies.”

According to data made publicly accessible by Facebook, Brown’s “stop Wynne” ads are targeted at users who support the “Conservative Party of Canada.”

Patrick Brown, Facebook

Except there’s just one small problem. The photo in Brown’s ad isn’t real – it’s fake.

It’s no coincidence a strikingly similar photo of a vandalized stop sign has circulated around the Internet for years, even appearing in news reports from time to time.

Only difference? The original photo doesn’t say Stop Wynne, it says Stop Harper.

For example, a nearly identical photo appeared in a 2015 CBC News article detailing one northern British Columbia town’s plea for residents to please refrain from slapping “stop Harper” stickers on local stop signs.

CBC News

Stop signs modified to read Stop Harper became a popular meme in Canada after former Senate page Brigitte DePape went rogue and protested Harper’s 2011 speech from the throne by unraveling a Stop Harper sign on the Senate floor.

Now Patrick Brown, who was a Conservative MP in Stephen Harper’s government, is trying to appropriate anti-Harper memes to attack his political opponents?

There’s little doubt Brown’s Stop Wynne photo is an altered version of the original Stop Harper photo.

Animated gif by PressProgress

A close analysis of both photos by PressProgress reveals the two images share a number of uncanny similarities:

  • In the backdrops of both photos, several electrical wires dangle in the exact same locations;
  • An identical reflection of a tree appears on the stop sign in both photos;
  • The same grey house appears in the bottom-left corner of both photos.

Put another way: Brown’s photo is clearly fake.

Image analysis by PressProgress

Making matters worse, Brown’s photo isn’t even from Ontario.

The stop sign in question is actually located in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Fredericton, New Brunswick, as street-level images from Google Maps demonstrate.

During the 2015 federal election, 72% of constituents located in the same riding as the stop sign cast votes against the riding’s incumbent Conservative MP.

Google Maps

PressProgress reached out to Brown’s office but received no response to multiple requests for comment.


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