06/30/2019 14:11 EDT | Updated 07/03/2019 10:43 EDT

Canadian Cartoonist Michael De Adder's Contract Terminated After Viral Trump Cartoon

Newspaper publisher Brunswick News said the decision has nothing to do with that artwork.

Michael de Adder, a Canadian cartoonist who has been drawing professionally for almost two decades, saw his contract with four newspapers terminated after his depiction of the U.S. president and the border crisis went viral. 

UPDATE: “You want to know why I was let go?” Read de Adder’s response

The cartoon, shared by de Adder on Wednesday, features Donald Trump standing by a golf cart, asking “Do you mind if I play through,” while standing above the bodies of a father and toddler. The image recalls the drowning of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, in the Rio Grande River as they tried to cross the Mexico-U.S. border. 

The post caught the attention of people across Canada and the U.S., including celebrities George Takei and “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill, who said it was “Pulitzer Prize-worthy.”

Courtesy Michael de Adder
Canadian cartoonist Michael de Adder lost his freelance contract with Brunswick News this week. 

On Saturday, de Adder revealed on Twitter that he was “let go” from all the newspapers owned by Brunswick News: the Moncton Times Transcript, Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Telegraph-Journal and Telegraph Journal Saint John. 

De Adder’s career began in 2000. His work is syndicated in North America, and appears regularly in large-circulation newspapers including the Toronto Star and the National Post. 

When reached by HuffPost Canada on Sunday, he said he couldn’t speak about his contract but that some speculation circulating on social media was “hitting it on the nose.”

Wes Tyrell, a political cartoonist and president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists, said, “Although [de Adder] has stated there was no reason given for his firing, the timing was no coincidence.”

He noted that the Trump cartoon did not appear in the newspaper but its popularity across social media likely caught the eye of the Irving family, which has a monopoly on New Brunswick’s papers. Their companies — which include oil and gas, shipping and transportation — are worth an estimated $10 billion, making them among Canada’s richest families.

“For a brief period de Adder was the poster boy for the Anti-Trump movement. A good place to be if you’re a cartoonist, but a bad place to be if you work for a foreign oil company with business ties to the United States,” Tyrell said in a statement on Facebook.

Peter Power / The Globe and Mail/ Canadian Press
James K. Irving, left, Arthur Irving, middle, and Jack Irving, right, at the Business Hall of Fame gala dinner in Toronto on May 6, 2008.

Brunswick News said they were not offered the Trump cartoon to publish. In a statement on Sunday morning, they said de Adder’s freelance contract was cancelled in order to bring in another cartoonist, as part of negotiations that had been “ongoing for weeks.” 

The company described blaming the Trump cartoon for the end of de Adder’s contract as “a false narrative.”

HuffPost reached de Adder as he was heading out of Halifax, where he lives, to take some time to collect his thoughts, process losing the work, and finish a book. 

“I loved drawing cartoons for my home province. I’m a proud New Brunswicker. I will survive,” he said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Wes Tyrell as Wes Tyler. 

Earlier on HuffPost: Canadian cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon’s take on the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing divides the internet