Nova Scotia

After Wilson-Raybould cartoon, Halifax artist says he'll stop drawing women in violent situations

The main point of a recent cartoon on the SNC-Lavalin affair that depicted Jody Wilson-Raybould tied up with her mouth covered in a boxing ring with the prime minister got missed because of the violence, Michael de Adder says.

Main point of cartoon on SNC-Lavalin affair got missed because of violence, says Michael de Adder

Michael de Adder is a cartoonist in Halifax. He has been criticized over his cartoon involving Jody Wilson-Raybould in a boxing ring. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Halifax political cartoonist Michael de Adder says he will no longer depict women in violent situations.

His decision was sparked by a cartoon he posted last week on the SNC-Lavalin affair.

"You know your job as a cartoonist is to make your point — not make a point you didn't intend," de Adder said.

The cartoon, posted Feb. 15, 2019, is set in a boxing ring and it shows Jody Wilson-Raybould in one corner with tape over her mouth, tied up and sitting on a stool. 

In the other corner of the ring is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, dressed ready to box. Senior political adviser Gerald Butts, shown wearing glasses and a suit, tells Trudeau, "Keep beating her up, solicitor-client privilege has tied her hands."

The crux of the SNC-Lavalin affair is a question of whether the prime minister pressured Wilson-Raybould — who was attorney general — to resolve the corruption and fraud case against the Montreal-based company.

Wilson-Raybould would not comment publicly on the issue because she said she is bound by solicitor-client privilege.

"The intent of the cartoon was not to attack [Jody Wilson-Raybould] — it was intended to attack the Liberals," de Adder said.

But many online critics did not interpret the cartoon as intended.

Some on Twitter thought de Adder was trying to make a joke out of violence against women and even encouraging it.

Others said the cartoon was in poor taste, because it didn't take into consideration violence against women and, in particular, violence against Indigenous women and their families.

Wilson-Raybould is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples.

On Saturday, de Adder tweeted he wouldn't depict women in violent situations going forward.

He said there is always conflict in politics and said an effective, visual way to show it in a cartoon is through violent imagery. It could be people fighting in a ring, two people fighting with scissors, people engaged in a brawl.

For future cartoons, de Adder said he'll put more thought into how to show conflict.

"I'll tackle it as I go. I'm not saying there won't be a female politician throwing a punch ... it's going to be hit and miss for me, but I'll strive to do things slightly differently," he said.

But he still plans on creating more cartoons about SNC-Lavalin and Wilson-Raybould.

He said the goal of a political cartoonist is to get as close to the line as possible, if not over it once in a while.

"It doesn't mean my cartoons are going to change very much," he said. "It just means that I'm going to make the same point a different way. You know life goes on. I'll just be subtle differences. I'll still get into trouble."


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.