UPDATE: Robbie Picard has deleted the offending post, and offered a brief apology on both his personal Facebook page and the Canada Oil Sands Community page.
“It was not my intent of demeaning women or any people of any sexual orientation,” Picard wrote. “I certainly don’t want to divide our community I believe in equality and human rights.”
The “I Love Oil Sands” campaign has cut ties with Robbie Picard.
The local figure has come under fire for a controversial ad posted on the Canada Oil Sands Community Facebook page, depicting two women kissing and questioning why Canada is buying oil from countries that “don’t think lesbians are hot.”
Canada Action, which coordinates the “I Love Oil Sands” campaign, is distancing themselves from Picard.
“Robbie does not speak for, and is not representing Canada Action or I Love Oil Sands in any capacity,” said Founder and Spokesperson Cody Battershill. “Robbie is completely on his own and doing his own thing, and we have nothing to do with his page.”
Battershill said they decided to part ways with Picard after the wildfire, as he indicated a desire to do “his own thing.”
“He had other plans,” Battershill said. “We decided it would just be best to have a separation.”
The Canada Action founder also offered a one-word commentary on the ad that was posted on Picard’s page, calling it “distasteful.” He added that he’s sent another reminder to Picard to “cease and desist” in using the “I Love Oil Sands” logo.
Picard defended his post on Fort McMurray Matters, saying that the outrage should be directed towards Saudi Arabia for their treatment of people who identify as LGBTQ.
“I’m trying to draw attention to Ontario and Quebec particularly through social media, that we need to have a bigger discussion on where we get our oil from,” he said. “Because there’s a lot of bigger atrocities than two pretty girls kissing on a poster happening over there.”
The self-styled oil advocate who identifies as gay and Metis says he ran the ad by a few of his female friends, and while one was offended he decided to go forward with the post. It has since generated 245 comments on the original post, along with several other shares on Facebook that have led to criticism.
Several commenters worried that the post would further solidify stereotypes of Fort McMurray as macho and misogynistic
“This just advertises a brand of ignorance that Fort McMurray has previously been branded with,” wrote James Maitland. “This community is far more dynamic and progressive than this ignorant-level thinking.”
You can listen to Picard’s full defense of his post here.