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An Offensive Ad Resulted In A Classic Canadian Standoff

I'm sorry. No I'm sorry. Stop apologizing, you didn't do anything wrong. I'm still sorry.

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This ad appeared in First Nations newspaper The Drum. It was published on behalf of Liberal MP Joyce Murray, and was meant to offer congrats to aboriginal high school graduates. It offended a lot of people.

The offending portion was this prominent sentence: "Sobriety, Education And Hard Work Lead To Success."

Um, why is sobriety on there? And why is it listed first?

There was a lot of backlash.

I should probably quit binge drinking if I want to finish that phd then. #DeadIndianStereotype #DrunkIndian @joycemurray

So... this just happened. Yes, it's still 2015. #cdnpoli #joycemurray #wtfareyouforreal


Meanwhile, @joycemurray congratulates #Indigenous grads by telling them to stay sober. #lpc #cdnpoli #bcpoli

Murray quickly issued a full and unreserved apology. She said she was not aware of the ad, and did not approve it.

Facebook: mpjoycemurray

"However, I assume full responsibility for what has happened and I offer my most sincere apologies to all those who were offended," she wrote on Facebook.

It was then revealed that the ad was the work of the sales department at The Drum, rather than Murray.

Just spoke to Len O'Connor, editor at First Nations Drum. He said this ad was written by sales dept NOT @joycemurray

Some gave Murray props for apologizing so quickly and completely, even though she did not personally create or approve the ad.

Liberal MP apologizes for something she never did. Integrity from a top notch member @joycemurray #lpc #cdnpoli

A good Canadian sorry.


But hold on there, Joyce Murray. The Drum also needs to apologize.

Rick Littlechild, the paper's general manager, told Canadian Press that the paper will publish an apology in its next issue, and run a new version of the Murray ad.

“We are responsible for it so we’ll take the blame," he said.

Good to hear. Apologies were definitely in order for this offensive ad. Oh, and Littlechild also apologized to Murray.

The CP story said:

Liberal MP Joyce Murray is apologizing for a newspaper advertisement in which she appears to be feeding racial stereotypes about aboriginal people.

But the newspaper, in turn, is apologizing to Murray for running the ad without noticing it contained offensive content that had been written, without the Vancouver MP's knowledge, by one of its sales people.

Good job, everyone. That's three apologies. Wait, what's this?

Littlechild told CP that Murray should not be apologizing and taking responsibility.

"She shouldn't take any responsibility, he said. "I mean, we came up with the slogan, that wasn't her. She had nothing to do with it."

Sorry Joyce Murray, but you need to stop apologizing and taking responsibility.

@kady @joycemurray Also, while it sounds noble, this is one of the few times where one should *not* say, "I take full responsibility."

Canadian Standoff: Apology Edition.

Hold on, our bad. It turns out this apologies expert says Murray actually has more apologizing to do.

@AndrewLawton @joycemurray Kosher Apology = 3 parts: Expeditious, Specific, Promise through words/actions not to repeat. Missing #3.

Meanwhile, some are waiting for an apology from the NDP candidate who initially brought the ad to peoples' attention, resulting in the apologies from Murrary, The Drum, and from The Drum to Murray.

@jacquigingras Are you going to issue a correction/apology to @joycemurray or just let this slander stand? Shameful politiking on your part.


Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at

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