South Surrey-White Rock Liberal candidate Gordon Hogg phoned all members of White Rock council Tuesday evening – after Peace Arch News published an article online featuring Mayor Wayne Baldwin’s comments about the city not being notified of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit last week – to apologize.
Baldwin had called the lack of notification “extremely disappointing, disrespectful and a total breach of protocol.”
Hogg told PAN Wednesday that the prime minister’s informal visit ended up being much larger than expected. More than 1,000 greeted Trudeau’s walking tour.
“There was no intent at all to make anyone feel left out,” Hogg said. “It was really a positive event. I feel badly that the mayor felt that way. In talking to council members, they seemed to be pretty OK with what took place. I understand that the mayor was the one that was most hurt, or offended by the process and I feel badly about that.”
However, not all of council seemed to be out of the loop with respect to the prime minister’s visit. Couns. David Chesney, Helen Fathers and Bill Lawrence attended. Fathers tweeted that she got to see Trudeau in White Rock, and Lawrence and Chesney were photographed with the prime minister.
City of White Rock Coun. Bill Lawrence and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I think it’s a little disingenuous for the mayor to cry foul,” Chesney said. “It wasn’t an official visit by the prime minister.”
Making note of a photograph featuring Hogg, Trudeau, Chesney and Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell, Chesney offered his opinion on why the mayor made his comments to council Monday.
“To be quite honest – and you can quote me on this – I think the fact that when he saw the picture of myself and Harley Chappell, of all the two people in White Rock that ended up in the picture, that’s what completely set him off the rails… And I think you should run that picture of the four of us.”
(Baldwin told PAN he did not see the photo till after Monday’s meeting.)
Following the photo-op, Chesney wrote on his White Rock Sun website that he was “honoured to be asked to join Harley Chappell for the welcome to White Rock.”
Coun. Grant Meyer told PAN the statement on Chesney’s website does not match what Chesney told council Monday, that he did not know where he heard about Trudeau’s visit, “probably Laura’s Coffee Shop.”
Meyer said Coun. Lynne Sinclair took a screenshot of Chesney’s online post, where Chesney says he was “asked” to welcome the prime minister.
“I raised that with Hogg,” Sinclair told PAN. “I said I think that’s where it went awry. It was implied, if not stated, on his blog that he had been honoured to be invited to greet the prime minister to the City of White Rock.”
Chesney told PAN he learned about Trudeau’s visit through the coffee shop – “I go there probably every other day” – and he was at the event to take photographs.
“I was never asked to welcome the prime minister, just to meet him,” Chesney said.
Referencing next month’s federal byelection, Meyer said elections are “a bit of a circus,” then brought up “sausage gate.”
Meyer referenced Trudeau’s past statements on equality – noting half of his cabinet ministers are women – “then he has his picture taken with someone on council that, you know, (tells) women (they) look like they’re stuffed in a sausage casing.”
Without providing a name, Meyer was referring to Chesney, who, in a 2015 online interview, said some pregnant women wear ill-fitting clothing and “it looks like sausage casing.”
After a firestorm of criticism, Chesney apologized.
Meyer said he’s certain Trudeau did not know of Chesney’s comments before posing in a photo with him.