A Facebook statement from the president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists took aim at one of Canada’s richest men in the controversy over an artist’s Trump-critical cartoons.
Canadian political cartoonist Michael de Adder, whose previous syndication reached over a million readers a week, was released from his contract to draw for newspapers in his native New Brunswick after he posted sensitive anti-Trump art on social media.
The cartoon, which appeared on his accounts June 26th, standing over the bodies of Oscar Alberto Martínez and Angie Valeria, two El Salvadoran migrants who recently drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande River into Texas (as a caution, the art behind that link can be considered disturbing).
In de Adder’s piece, Trump holds golf clubs and asks the prone figures if they “mind if he plays through,” highlighting Trump’s assumed indifference to the human cost of his administration’s immigration policies. The art quickly went viral, even more so after de Adder announced that he was let go from New Brunswick newspapers the Times & Transcript, the Daily Gleaner, and the Telegraph-Journal— all of which are owned by Brunswick News.
De Adder announced the news on June 28 via Twitter and followed up with the clarification that he was let go from his contract, not fired, as he was not technically an employee; he also expressed sadness over no longer being able to draw for New Brunswick papers but insisted he was “not a victim.”
Two days after de Adder lost his contract, the president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists that speculated de Adder was let go to mollify J.K. Irving. The Canadian billionaire (listed at the fourth richest person in Canada) owns both the Brunswick News and J.D. Irving, Limited, a conglomerate with numerous international trade interests.
In the statement, association president Wes Tyrell wrote that despite de Adder being known for drawing anti-Trump art, he had been discouraged from doing so for Brunswick News outlets.
Tyrell also claimed that while Irving’s papers had never published de Adder’ Trump cartoons (including the piece in question) the amount of attention de Adder received for this particular cartoon put a target on his back. “Trade has been an issue since Trump took office, trade that affects the Irvings directly,” Tyrell wrote, adding, “not to mention a host of other issues. And the President himself is an unknown quantity who punishes those who appear to oppose him.”
Tyrell connected Irving’s dual ownership of Brunswick News and J.D. Irving, Limited and placed the blame for de Adder’ situation on the billionaire’s shoulders, noting that “whether the powers that be in America would make the connection between de Adder’s cartoon and Brunswick News Inc doesn’t matter. It seems that the Irving’s [sic] don’t want to take that chance. So they cut all ties.