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Toronto Sun defends Olivia Chow cartoon against latest criticism

The Toronto Sun building in Toronto.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

Justin Trudeau isn't the only federal political leader with a bone to pick with Sun media.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is upset over an editorial cartoon that ran in the Toronto Sun newspaper just prior to Monday's municipal election, featuring mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.

Mulcair says the Andy Donato cartoon is racist, sexist and offensive.

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In the cartoon, Chow, a former New Democrat MP, is depicted in slanted glasses and a Mao Zedong-style tunic.

She is standing on the coattails of Jack Layton, her late husband and Mulcair's predecessor as federal NDP leader.

"It's sort of like an amalgam of everything offensive that you could possibly think of," Mulcair told a forum on women's issues, organized by the NDP on Thursday.

"That's still the reality of the prejudices and the hatred against women, like Olivia."

He called the portrayal of Chow a "racist caricature of a Chinese person."

Mulcair held up a copy of the cartoon and then proceeded to tear it up.

"I'm going to offer it to anybody who thinks they're going to be talking with Sun News any time soon so they can give it to the people who own the Sun newspapers."

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The Sun newspaper chain is currently owned by Quebecor, which also owns Sun News Network.

However, Quebecor is in the process of selling the newspaper chain to Postmedia.

Chow and the Toronto chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council have also complained about the cartoon.

In response, the newspaper defended the cartoon, arguing that Donato has long drawn many New Democrats wearing Mao suits, a depiction "intended as political comment and in no way intended to carry any racial or ethnic connotations."

The paper also said Donato always "exaggerates" the physical characteristics of his subjects, "regardless of race or ethnicity."

Nevertheless, to the extent that the cartoon could be interpreted as highlighting Chow's racial or ethnic characteristics, the Toronto Sun apologized to Chow and "anyone else offended" by it.

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Last month, Trudeau announced he would no longer speak to Sun News Network reporters after one of the network's on-air personalities, Ezra Levant, went on a rant about the morals of Trudeau, his mother and his father.

Trudeau dropped his boycott after the network apologized, although Levant did not.

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