Golf tournament organizer 'sorry if anyone was offended' by Rachel Notley target
'I apologize to Notley the person, not Notley the premier,' Ernest Bothi says
An Alberta man who put a picture of Premier Rachel Notley's face up on a target at a golf tournament he organized has offered his apologies to Notley as a person — but says he still has issue with her as premier.
Ernest Bothi, president of the Brooks Big Country Oilmen's Association, said the sign was displayed at a tournament held Friday at the Brooks Golf Club.
He said the photo of Notley was placed intentionally and was meant to be a target. Although he said no one actually hit the display, Bothi defended his right to have it there.
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We're still living in Canada and as far as I know, it hasn't become a communist nation, not as of yet.- Ernest Bothi , president, Brooks Big Country Oilmen's Association
Bothi said he came up with the idea to display the target because he was frustrated with the NDP government.
"I'm the president of the organization. I take full responsibility for it. And I did it because I see a lot of frustrated people out there," Bothi said.
"It's called freedom of speech. We're still living in Canada and as far as I know, it hasn't become a communist nation, not as of yet.
"The picture was just a headshot. It wasn't anything of a lewd nature. We just went out, everybody played 18 holes. That was it."
A video was posted on Facebook of a golf cart running down the Notley target.<br>Read more: <a href="https://t.co/5X7jtj8UFZ">https://t.co/5X7jtj8UFZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/Gpfaqyn89d">pic.twitter.com/Gpfaqyn89d</a>—@CBCEdmonton
Bothi said that the group members of the Brooks Big Country Oilmen's Association playing in the tournament are "fed up" with people being out of work and the increased cost of living.
"A lot of good people have invested their entire life into this industry and for what? So that a government can strip it away from us?" Bothi said.
When asked if he was sorry, Bothi responded by saying, "am I sorry for what?"
"For being frustrated? For possibly losing my home and possibly losing my business because of this government? No."
'Sorry if anyone was offended'
After originally speaking to CBC News, Bothi later said he wanted to be clear that the photo wasn't a gender issue, saying it was "about a politician that is in our opinion not doing the right thing."
"If it had been a male premier in place it would of been his picture," said Bothi, before adding that he's "sorry if anyone was offended."
"I apologize to Notley the person, not Notley the premier. I wish she would have a change of heart [with] what she's doing. I just read online that her carbon tax is going to cost billions."
Twitter user @KenFleury originally tweeted out the image with the caption "Just love the Notley target at the oil men's golf tourney."
Fleury, who tagged Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt in the post, drew the ire of many on the social media platform.
He has since deleted the tweet and apologized. Bothi said Fleury was not at the tournament and does not know how Fleury obtained the photo.
Derek Fildebrandt, in an online post, condemned the sign. Fleury tagged Fildebrandt in the post which led some to believe the Wildrose MLA endorsed the sign. Fildebrandt said that was "cheap politics that feeds this growing disrespect for those of us trying to serve our communities."
"All of my colleagues in the Alberta Legislature deserve respect, including Premier Notley."
Bothi said that, as far as he knows, the golf course was not aware of the target.
'We see acts like this and we're obligated to condemn them'
This is not the first time that those critical of Notley have been accused of taking it too far.
In December of 2015 Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose Party, made a statement calling for the rhetoric to be toned down after numerous death threats appeared online.
Marie Renaud, the NDP MLA for St. Albert, was at a Pride barbecue when the tweet first came to her attention.
"I don't think it's funny, I don't think that most Albertans find that funny," said Renaud.
I don't think it's funny, I don't think that most Albertans find that funny.- Marie Renaud
"I think all of us are sort of reeling with all the violence that we've seen, Orlando, to see the MP murdered in her constituency. You think you would be finding more ways to demonstrate solidarity and peace.
"Having a target of a woman, that's not how you do it."
The sign comes just days after Jo Cox, a British MP, was gunned down and stabbed in the streets in her constituency of Birstall. Despite tweets from the public drawing parallels, Bothi said there is no comparison.
"What happened in England, I mean, it's horrible," Bothi said.
"This has nothing to do with a physical attack. We didn't burn her in effigy or anything like that. We just wanted to release some steam," Bothi said. "It's just, enough's enough."
Bothi added later that he didn't know about Cox's murder when he originally put the sign up.
Former NDP candidate Janis Irwin recently wrote a column about the violent threats that female politicians often have to put up with.
"What we're seeing in light of Jo Cox's death, that shows us what happens when threats are actualized. And it's alarming to me that people continue to promote this culture of violence and threats against women politicians and condone it," Irwin said on Saturday.
"We see acts like this and we're obligated to condemn them."
If we sit back and don't respond and we don't take action then we perpetuate... this culture in which threats of violence against women are acceptable.- Janis Irwin
Irwin said that even though she is not an elected official she still gets "violent, hateful discourse thrown at me all the time on social media."
"I'm seeing a lot of people condemning this right away and that's what needs to happen," she said.
"If we sit back and don't respond and we don't take action then we perpetuate this culture of misogyny and this culture in which threats of violence against women are acceptable."
With files from Andrea Ross