POLITICS
03/01/2019 14:24 EST | Updated 03/01/2019 15:31 EST

Cartoonist Surprised By Reaction To Racist Wilson-Raybould Caricature

He apologized if his cartoon offended people.

LARS HAGBERG via Getty Images
Former Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould arrives to give her testimony before a justice committee hearing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 27, 2019.

OTTAWA — A Journal de Québec cartoonist says he's sorry for offending anyone with his racist depiction of Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Veteran cartoonist Yannick Lemay explained in a statement Friday that it wasn't his intention to be offensive or offside.

"I am surprised by this reaction," he told HuffPost Canada in French. "I wanted a simple design here, nothing else."

The cartoon shows Wilson-Raybould, Canada first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general, wearing a beaded leather-fringed outfit and feathers in her hair. The depiction is an antiquated and offensive visual shorthand to convey her Indigenous identity.

She is carrying a double-bladed hatchet in one hand and, with the other, delivers a knockout punch to a cartoon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Watch: Liberal MP apologizes for comments made about Wilson-Raybould

Tying in a reference to the SNC-Lavalin controversy, Trudeau is illustrated wearing boxing headgear with "PLC-Lavalin" emblazoned across the front. A joint is seemingly knocked from his mouth as well. "PLC" is the abbreviation for the Liberal Party of Canada in French.

University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes was among those who criticized Journal de Québec/Journal de Montreal for publishing the cartoon.

Lemay said he's drawing lessons from the backlash, which was published Thursday online and in print. There are "more and more subjects" for which cartoonists need to be prudent about, he said.

"I'm sorry if I offended certain people."

The cartoon remains up on the newspaper's website.

The SNC-Lavalin controversy has embroiled the Liberal government in recent weeks, which has prompted cartoonists across the country to sketch their take on the day's news. Some have landed themselves in trouble for insensitive depictions of both Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau.

Toronto Star cartoonist Theo Moudakis deleted a cartoon Thursday showing the prime minister taking a walk in the snow in the path of an avalanche labelled "2019 election."

Trudeau's youngest brother Michel was killed in an avalanche in 1998. Moudakis apologized to the prime minister for the "thoughtless oversight."

Halifax-based political cartoonist Michael de Adder apologized last month for his drawing of the former attorney general.

In the depiction, Wilson-Raybould is shown seated on a chair in a boxing ring with her hands tied and mouth taped. Over the other corner, Trudeau is being coached by his former principal secretary Gerry Butts to "keep beating her up, solicitor-client privilege has tied her hands."

The cartoon was widely panned for condoning violence against women, insensitive to the fact that the Indigenous women are more likely to be targets of violence than other women and girls.

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