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Most Canadians don't agree with Bernier's billboard message: expert

A billboard with Maxime Bernier's face and a slogan advocating against mass immigration is seen next to a highway in Halifax. (Source: NEWS 95.7/twitter)

The billboard's message doesn't accurately reflect what's happening in Canada these days, Ramos says

The majority of Canadians are very open to immigration

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The head of the People’s Party of Canada is blaming the “leftist mob” for the removal of some controversial billboards featuring his photo. But one expert says there’s a simpler reason – most Canadians just don’t agree with what the billboards said.

The billboards, featuring Maxime Bernier’s photo and the words “Say NO to mass immigration” prompted controversy when they popped up in Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, and Regina last week. The ads were paid for by True North Strong and Free Advertising Corp., a registered third party, but pulled by the company that runs billboard advertising after only a few days.

That’s because the message  doesn’t accurately reflect what’s happening in Canada these days, according to political sociologist Howard Ramos at Dalhousie University.

“If you look at the success of Canada amongst the G7, largely its success is because we’ve been open to the world, not closed to it,” he says. “An anti-immigration approach is not one that flies well in Canada, where the super-majority of people are very open to immigration.”

RELATED: ‘Say NO to mass immigration’ ads pulled, Bernier blames ‘leftist mob’

With roughly 350,000 people moving to Canada every year, most provinces enjoy an economic boost from the new additions, Ramos says, especially in the Maritimes.

He worries we’re giving too much attention to an anti-immigration position that, in Canada, is firmly on the fringe.

“If you look at the support for Bernier’s party, it’s sitting somewhere around 4 per cent. The amount of attention the ad is getting is giving huge exposure to the party, probably exposure that it’s not really deserving.”

Pattison Outdoor Advertising initially said it wouldn’t remove the billboards, but less than 12 hours later company president Randy Otto reversed course, saying it was never the intention to offend or alienate the public.