BROOKS, Alta. — An organizer of an Alberta golf tournament where a cutout of Premier Rachel Notley was placed on the course as a target says it was meant to be humorous and was never intended to promote violence.
Ernest Bothi, president of the Big Country Oilmen's Association, says it was his idea to use the cutout, which was placed on the 11th hole of the Brooks Golf Club during the association's annual golf tournament on Friday.
The cutout drew criticism Saturday from an Alberta NDP member of the legislature, who says it was inappropriate to put a woman's face on a target, especially following the murder of British MP Jo Cox.
Bothi says people in the local energy industry are frustrated with Notley's carbon tax and the cutout was meant as a laugh.
— Stephanie McLean (@NDPStephanie) June 18, 2016
He also says he was unaware of Cox's gender, and thought the MP was a man when news reports Friday said the victim's name was Jo.
Bothi says he doubts there would have been an uproar if former prime minister Stephen Harper's face was on a target.
"There's a lot of people here down in Brooks that, for want of a better term, needed a bit of a lift,'' Bothi said in an interview on Saturday.
He said no one hit the target.
"I don't think it's OK in this day and age. When you know better, you do better, and this isn't any better.'' —Marie Renaud, NDP MLA for St. Albert
"Everybody had a good laugh and that's all it was. It was good-hearted laughter. Nobody's going to hop into their vehicles and head off to Edmonton and do something horrible,'' he added.
"There was even women on the course who got a good chuckle out of it.''
Marie Renaud, a New Democrat who represents St. Albert in the legislature, called the Notley target upsetting. Renaud returned a call from the premier's office seeking comment on it.
"Of course, you hear the normal excuse, 'It's a joke.' That's not a joke,'' she said, reacting to earlier media reports on the golf tournament.
Ernest Bothi said he would never do anything to harm Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. (Photo: Flickr)
Renaud said after Cox was murdered on Thursday, she decided to share what she called "ugly posts and messages'' on social media that she's received in the past year.
She said using the premier's face as a target promotes a violent message.
"A lot of times it's just faceless, nameless accounts online, but it's disgusting and it's horrific, the violence that people talk about,'' Renaud said.
"I don't think it's OK in this day and age. When you know better, you do better, and this isn't any better.''
"There was even women on the course who got a good chuckle out of it.'' —Ernest Bothi, Big Country Oilmen's Association
Bothi said he would never advocate harm to Notley or any politician.
"I'm sure she's a wonderful person to sit and drink coffee with, but I just wish she'd have a change of heart on what she's doing, especially with this carbon tax,'' he said.
"Our industry is being beaten up bad.''