Baby at work criticized by councillor's female colleague
A public battle is underway in rural Alberta after a female county politician publicly criticized a fellow councillor for bringing her two-month-old baby daughter to meetings.
Brazeau County councillor Pat Monteith made the remarks about Kara Westerlund in "The Councillor Connection" column in the Feb. 22 edition of the Breton Booster newspaper.
"It appears that our new council chambers and meeting room has been turned into a nursery by one of our councillors," Monteith wrote.
"Personally, I am finding it disruptive and distracting. More importantly, how do you feel about your tax dollars going to pay someone to care for her own child?"
The column shocked and upset Westerlund, 28, who covers herself while she breastfeeds her daughter during the twice-monthly council sessions.
She said Monteith — who sits next to her in the council chamber — never let on that she was bothered by the baby's presence.
"It surprised me because I know she's a mother too," Westerlund said on Tuesday.
Brazeau County Reeve Wes Tweedle says councillors discussed the issue and the majority agreed that Westerlund could bring her baby to meetings.
"It doesn't bother me," he said. "It's been quite exciting actually."
Several area mothers brought their babies to Tuesday's council meeting in Drayton Valley in a show of support.
"I think children should be welcome everywhere, regardless of the venue," said Sheena Melin.
Monteith did not attend the March 6 council meeting because of bad weather and declined a request for an interview by CBC News.
Westerlund has yet to speak to Monteith about the comments. She has no plans to leave her baby at home while she is breastfeeding.
With files from The Canadian Press