POLITICS
11/04/2011 01:01 EDT | Updated 01/04/2012 05:12 EST

Saskatchewan Election: Man Files Complaint Over Bloody Background He Sees In Saskatchewan Party Ad

REGINA - A man has filed a complaint with Canada's broadcast standards council about a Saskatchewan Party election ad he says sends subliminal messages.

Joel Scott says the ad titled NDP Caught Red Handed shows New Democrat Party Leader Dwain Lingenfelter against a backdrop that looks like splattered blood.

"There's photographic proof that there's been manipulation and basically some deceit at work here with this commercial," Scott said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.

"There seems be an entire blood splatter scene that the leader was placed in front of to clearly imply violence and criminal wrongdoing."

Scott wrote in his complaint that the ad violates Clause 15 of the broadcast code. It says broadcasters must take reasonable steps to avoid advertising material or programs that make use of any subliminal technique or device.

Scott said the audio track has the sound of a jail door slamming. He said the image, audio and words leave the viewer with a subconscious impression of Lingenfelter.

"Red handed refers to being caught with blood on your hands, so I think it strikes to the core of the ethics of an attempt to portray him as a violent criminal."

Scott is a longtime NDP supporter, but said he filed the complaint because he works in production and knows how ads can be manipulated.

The standards council said its job is to make broadcasters aware of the complaint and it's their responsibility to respond. National chairman Ron Cohen said the council doesn't deal with whoever produced the content.

"At the end of the day all broadcasters are responsible for everything they broadcast and even if it has been created, produced by someone else," he said.

Cohen said it would not be possible to deal with the issue by Monday's election.

Terri Harris, who is responsible for the Saskatchewan Party's ad campaign, said all ads are submitted in advance to the Television Bureau of Canada and this one received approval.

"That complaint is false because certainly in no way does that advertisement look like that," said Harris.

"In fact, the background is a graphic design background that's called rust. The sound effects in the ad are musical instruments actually layered over each other and they're there for effect for the statements in the ad."

Premier Brad Wall said he couldn't comment because he had not seen the complaint.

"I've seen the ads. I approve the ads before they go on the air ... and I didn't see any of that on any of the ads we ran," said Wall.

It's not the first time a political ad has been an issue in a Saskatchewan election.

In 2007, the Saskatchewan Party was outraged by an NDP television attack ad. The Sask. Party suggested that as the words "Privatization of the Crowns" dissolved in one part of the ad, the letters P, O, R and N stay up a second longer than the rest.

The Saskatchewan Party said that taken with the phrase "Sask Party Stood For'' above the letters, the implication was that the party stood for porn.

The NDP said it wasn't intentional. It said the production house used a computer program which generated the ad and the random evaporation of the letters.