White Rock Coun. David Chesney is not wrong. There is ample evidence that his political opponents are indeed conspiring to make hay with his ill-advised comments on expectant mothers.
This became apparent to Peace Arch News last month when former councillor Cliff Annable – who in 2011 launched a short-lived slate with then-candidate (and now Mayor) Wayne Baldwin – alerted a just-returned-to-work PAN reporter to a YouTube recording of Chesney’s now-infamous maternity chestnuts.
Annable’s April 14 email said simply: “Please listen from the 10 minute slot… As a new mother, I think you will find it very interesting.”
Given that our reporter had not much prior contact with Annable – and thinking we’d have a bit of fun with him, as he’s known for his affability – she emailed back: “Thanks for the email, Cliff. Curious what makes you think I’m a new mother?”
Annable’s response was swift; turns out it was Coun. Lynne Sinclair – Annable’s more successful White Rock Coalition slate mate in the 2014 election – who’d somehow learned of our reporter’s return from mat leave and passed along the timely news.
The penny dropped.
We listened to the April 6 Goddard Report and were indeed appalled by Chesney’s comments – he said tight maternity wear looks like “sausage casing” and that women “want to come to work until that water breaks” – and we knew the news was bound to break.
However, we decided we weren’t going to be the ones to break it. Unless somebody stepped forward and was publicly critical of what Chesney said, it had little to do with news, and all to do with sensationalism.
On April 30, 24 days after the interview was initially posted online, it was linked on the social-media site, Reddit, under a temporary ‘throwaway’ account, and its content was drawn to the attention of bloggers, tweeters, radio-show hosts and more. As most will recall, all hell broke loose for Chesney, with the mayor dumping on him in a CBC interview and fellow councillors tweeting and retweeting comments that quickly spanned the country.
Once Chesney ‘apologized’ publicly – writing about it on his website and inferring a “conspiracy” – we had what we felt was a legitimate news story. Still sensational, but legitimate.
So… no… Chesney’s not wrong.
But that hardly makes him right.
Given so many missteps, perhaps it’s time for all of council to breathe deeply and refocus their efforts to running their city without sensational distraction. Their voters deserve it.