A Red Deer restaurant hung up a cardboard Justin Trudeau pinata by its neck as part of its Canada Day festivities.
The cutout of the prime minister’s image looked like he was hanging by a noose Sunday at Burgundy’s Food and Stage.
Business owner Robert Newell said the pinata was filled with candy and loonies, so it was heavy, and it had to be tied with a rope around the neck.
The pinata was all in fun, said Newell, a born-and-raised Red Deerian.
“If the prime minister walked into Burgundy’s, we would treat him like any other customer, serve him the same way. We won’t attack him or anything,” said Newell.
“There’s no hate towards him on that level — it’s all for fun.”
Photos of the political pinata have sparked online debate, with some people saying on Reddit it was an “Un-Canadian” decision by Burgundy’s on Canada Day.
“If anything, it’s bad business practice and the symbolism is ***ked up. This doesn’t seem like promoting fun, it seems like promoting hate and anger. It’s ironic, Canada is known for being awesome and nice and well mannered so on Canada Day you’re going to celebrate your nation by disrespecting the people who voted for him? Doesn’t sound very Canadian to me,” said one comment, in part.
To those who find the act disrespectful, Newell says, “it’s just a pinata.”
One poster on Reddit comes to the business’s defence.
“It’s harmless fun. Lets people blow a little steam in one of the cities most affected by Trudeau’s decisions (whether you agree with them or not). They’re not shooting people or rioting or looting.
“I’d say the same if this was Andrew Scheer or Jason Kenney or any of them. If you don’t like it, don’t participate. Otherwise sit back and have a laugh. Quit letting harmless things offend you. It’s a pinata. Get over it.”
Newell said like many Albertans, he isn’t the the biggest fan of the prime minister.
He opened Burgundy’s in March. Prior to that, he had three other businesses in Red Deer that shut down.
“My other businesses have failed because of a lot of small business taxes. There’s not a lot of help for small businesses – it’s the franchises that succeed and we get pushed down. Me and many other local businesses are feeling the pinch,” he said.
“My whole family is not happy with him, but like I said, I don’t know the guy personally, so it’s not like if I see him, I’d attack him or anything like that.
“I just know Alberta feels strongly against him.”
Newell said the idea of the pinata prime minister was on social media for many weeks without any negative backlash, which changed since the Reddit post.
Newell took to his personal Facebook page to defend the business decision.
“A lot of hate and love, people acting like I wanna kill the guy,” stated Newell on Facebook. “He was filled with everything he said and took from us (empty promises and money) well and candy because Canadians got sweet tooth as well lol I don’t wish the guy dead but I do wish him out of office but in the end it’s a fun and games we glad everyone had a good time.”
Whether the whole fiasco brings negative publicity for the business, Newell says it puts Burgundy’s – a new-ish bar in Red Deer – on the map.
“There’ll be some people that’ll go against it, but there will be a lot of people now that know we’re here.”
The office of the prime minister did not provide a comment to the Advocate.