| Posted: Tuesday, Oct 09, 2012 06:45 pm
A former St. Albert city alderman still feels a nude painting depicting Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be removed from an Ontario library, even though his complaint to a human rights tribunal was turned down.
“I just hope that it was enough to make them realize that that kind of thing is not appropriate,” Curtis Stewart, owner of Little Einsteins Daycare in Grandin mall, said Tuesday.
Stewart filed the complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in May, days after the exhibition displaying the painting began in Kingston. Entitled Emperor Haute Couture, the painting by artist Margaret Sutherland depicts a nude Harper, lying back on a divan beside a dog while a woman offers him a cup of Tim Hortons coffee on a platter.
For the exhibition, the painting, which has since been sold, was displayed at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
Stewart said he has not been to the library but has seen pictures of the painting in the media.
“I just didn’t think it was appropriate to have pictures of our prime minister and hang them up on the wall for anyone, especially including children, for anyone to see and call it art,” Stewart said. “I mean, where do you draw the line?”
Stewart sat as an alderman from 2001 until 2004. The city has since changed the title of alderman to councillor.
He said the fact the painting depicted the prime minister made it particularly egregious.
“It’s just like putting a picture of a nude woman on the wall. It’s not appropriate, especially when it’s the prime minister.
In his complaint, Stewart said showing the painting in the library was “a complete form of sexual harassment to me, my family and to all Canadians.”
He asked for compensation of one penny per person in Canada, roughly $340,000, that would go to charities that “help out children of sexual harassment and sexual crimes.”
The tribunal dismissed Stewart’s application last month after he didn’t reply to a notice of intent to dismiss in July. The tribunal also ruled his complaint was outside the tribunal’s “power to decide.”
“They said I didn’t meet their criteria. They explained it very vaguely and I didn’t know how I would meet their criteria so I didn’t feel there was anything I could do to make them go forward with it.”
As a daycare operator, Stewart said he is concerned for children who might see the painting.
“We own a number of daycares and take them (children) on field trips all the time. I can’t imagine them seeing a nude prime minister on the wall and having to explain that.”
Stewart said he has not been contacted by any other media, even though several other outlets who have written about the story have said he could not be contacted.