A White Rock councillor who said in an online interview early last month that tight clothing on pregnant women looks like “sausage casing” and that expectant mothers want to delay maternity leave “until their water breaks” has apologized following a firestorm of criticism last week.
But while the Friday morning post to David Chesney’s White Rock Sun website was initially to “any women that may have been offended by comments that were taken out of context,” it was later revised to address “anyone that may have read the statements I made that were taken out of context to whip up some (attention-grabbing) headlines.”
The comments he was referring to were made about 10 minutes into an April 6 segment on The Goddard Report, after interviewer Jim Goddard brought up how vicious online comments can be. Goddard made specific reference to social-media posts and hate mail that has been directed towards a Global TV weather forecaster for appearing on television pregnant.
Chesney, however, said he believes some pregnant women do wear ill-fitting clothing.
“It looks like sausage casing, their belly button is pushing through the material and I kind of look at that and I go, I get it, you’re pregnant, all right,” Chesney said.
In addition to questioning “how they can yank on those Lululemon sweat pants and body dance skins and go out in public at eight months pregnant,” Chesney opined on maternity leave.
“You get one year maternity leave, so women want to come to work until their water breaks so they can have one year off from the time the baby is born. They are not taking a month off ahead of time. They are coming to work. They are barely able to walk. They can’t sit down. They are not comfortable.”
Following a link to the interview posted to online media site Reddit Thursday morning – by a user with the account name “chesneyThrowaway” – critical responses began to light up Twitter, Facebook and Vancouver-area media websites.
Chesney apologized again Saturday at the start of his Community Conversation meeting, held at the White Rock Library.
“My comments were intended to compare the dramatic clothing-style changes for men and women over the past decades, specifically maternity wear,” Chesney read from a prepared statement. “My remarks were insensitive and for that I am truly sorry. In no way, shape or form did I intend to marginalize or insult pregnant women and those that love them.”
In his statement at www.whiterocksun.com posted Friday, he questions the timing of interest in his comments, noting that up until Thursday, he’d had no feedback on that aspect of the interview.
“This story started 3 months ago. The interview… was recorded nearly a month ago. It appeared on the main page of The White Rock Sun a month ago for an entire week and nothing was said by way of the telephone, Internet or personally to either myself or Jim Goddard. Now all of a sudden it is the ‘top of the pops?’” he writes.
Chesney notes the interest followed a meeting a week earlier that he had with Mayor Wayne Baldwin. Chesney writes that Baldwin “said something to the effect that I may regret or I will be sorry or something to that effect about my remarks (from) as he termed ‘your talk with your buddy’.”
Chesney writes that he assumed the mayor’s comment was referencing his criticisms to Goddard of fellow council members.
He notes his city-supplied “bat phone” started ringing “off the hook” Thursday afternoon, “and then the light bulb went on.”
“Coincidence or conspiracy? We may never know. But then again we just might,” he writes.
Baldwin did not return PAN’s calls requesting comment.
CBC News reported Thursday that Baldwin called Chesney’s comments “unfortunate.”
“He does not speak for White Rock council,” Baldwin told CBC. “And definitely it’s an unfortunate remark that he’s made and it’s disturbing, but it’s nothing we can take responsibility for.”
CBC reported that Baldwin noted Chesney made defamatory comments about another councillor and as a result, he was censured and taken off council committees.
“There definitely seems to be a pattern, and that’s unfortunate.”
The censure, Baldwin announced in council last week, was over comments published on Chesney’s website. The mayor later confirmed to PAN that the comments were written by a third party about a fellow councillor and deemed “most likely” defamatory by the city’s lawyer.
– with files from Melissa Smalley