There’s no forgiveness for Chesney’s latest chestnut,but don’t be quick to toss this councillor.

As someone who has known  Dave Chesney for far longer than he’s been a councillor for the city of White Rock, I was as shocked and offended as anyone at the comments revealed to the press yesterday.

In days gone past, pregnancy was often referred to as a ‘condition’ and societies view of a pregnant woman was that she should cover up as much of that belly as possible. And in fact,looking back at maternity wear throughout recent history reveals huge,over-cut tops and dresses that not only hide your entire body,but an easy chair as well.

I’m really not sure why a woman’s belly was something to be hidden while pregnant.

A clerk once joked  to me that it was evidence of a woman’s sexuality- gasp- something  polite society didn’t want to be confronted with. Whatever the reason for past ignorance,women happily now embrace their growing bodies in all shapes and sizes-and that is just fine with me.

Dave’s comments on this were not only very old-fashioned, but insensitive and he doesn’t get a free pass here!

Maternity wear is costly and many women can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe and try to make do – baby equipment is a far better investment. And during a period of your life where many women do just feel icky or fat,it’s comments like his that just don’t need to be said. Women do not need to be told what to wear, or how to wear it- period. Epic fail and a lesson on how fast social media can be a politicians worst nightmare.

But the calls some are making for him to either step down or be removed as a councillor are what have prompted this post. In fact in a CBC story about Dave’s comments, it was Mayor Baldwins statement that caught my eye:

“Baldwin says Chesney made some defamatory comments about another a councillor and as a result, he was censured and taken off council committees.

“There definitely seems to be a pattern and that’s unfortunate.” 

I’d like to thank Mayor Baldwin for opening the door here to a bigger story.

Time for some history here because I suspect Dave’s recent comments are about to be loaded up as political ammunition to silence one of the only dissenting voices on White Rock council. Many have been watching the antics in White Rock since the last election, which have played out very publicly. There definitely is a pattern here…but it’s being set by Mayor Baldwin and council.

In recent years there have been growing concerns among many White Rock residents over what they perceive as a lack of transparency from their mayor and council.

Dave announced his run,hoping to bring the voice of the people back to city hall.Having lived in the community for decades and a regular face himself at council meetings at the microphone, asking questions,many supported his bid.

He won, and during his short time on council has raised issues that are increasingly giving the citizens of White Rock the perception that a target is on his back.

It started with White Rock councils decision to eliminate the question period from council meetings. 

Dave Chesney and Helen Fathers were the only two dissenting votes against this move that angered many in the community.At the council meeting where this decision was voted on, former councillor Margaret Woods called out “Cowards!” to the council as she walked out of the room along with other residents disgusted by the action.

Chesney himself admitted the question period had become rather useless, but not because it wasn’t needed, or for lack of questions.

In his words to the Peace Arch News:

“Chesney – who noted he had been at the question-period microphone prior to his election last November – said that while he voted against the decision on Monday, he agrees question period had become “useless.”

“I’ve been there, and to be very honest, question period, at the best of times – and this isn’t a reason to get rid of it – but at the best of times, as someone that’s used it on various occasions, I felt like I may have just gone down and talked to the white rock,” he said. “You get up and ask a question, and they just stare at you and ask, ‘is that it?’

“They don’t talk to you, they don’t discuss it, no one gets back to you.”

I suspect that telling statement didn’t go over well with his fellow council members, or the mayor. There is reasonable expectation from voters that council should address questions in a public format.

Chesney went on to make good on a campaign promise to host a monthly informal meeting with White Rock residents who wanted to discuss city issues,much like former Mayor Catherine Fergusen used to do. He even invited the mayor and the rest of council, but only councillor Helen Fathers attended the event where approx. 50 residents attended.  But the mayor and rest of council did not attend:

 “However, Baldwin told PAN Wednesday that he “likely would not go” to one of the events hosted by Chesney.

“Really, what it is, is something for him to get his name out there,” Baldwin said, noting former White Rock mayor Catherine Ferguson had a similar arrangement called Coffee with Catherine.

Baldwin noted that council is working on an alternate forum for discussion after question periodwas removed from the end of council meetings last month.

“We’re working on how we can accommodate that,” Baldwin said.

Apparently, they are still working on that…

Residents were again yelling- literally- at mayor and council again over  the in-camera decision to alter garbage collection in the city. Questions were asked why the decision was made in-camera( closed to the public) and councillors Chesney and Fathers thus requested a special meeting to re-visit the decision and address residents concerns.

However, public were discouraged from attending that special meeting by Mayor Baldwin and it was moved to April 10th.

The April 10th meeting was unlike anything the small city of White Rock has ever seen I suspect, with plain clothes police in attendance. The lack of transparency at city hall, particularly with respect to this issue and decision, had clearly reached a breaking point. This report from the Peace Arch news is a must read. 

Despite overwhelming opposition, council moved ahead with the contentious plans and Chesney was again a dissenting vote on two of the three motions and critical of the decision,which is detailed in the link above. And criticism is something that appears to be  not well received at city hall.

Which brings us forward to the comments made by Mayor Baldwin in the CBC story I began with, in which he refers to defamatory comments made by Chesney and alludes to a pattern of behavior.

In fact, the comments Baldwin refers to in the CBC story, were not actually written by Chesney himself but by a feature writer on his community news site, the White Rock Sun.

Further, in an editorial published by the Peace Arch News questioning the actions and statements of the mayor, the following is written:

“Turns out, Baldwin acknowledged later – once again, when pressed – that Chesney had not written the comments himself, and that the city’s counsel advised what was written was merely “most likely” defamatory.

Which would make his comments to the CBC, if accurately reported in the story, false.

Chesney  has responded on his own site with his side of the story under an April 3oth post:

There is a steep learning curve for new politicians and being in public office means everything you do is under scrutiny. Without a doubt, Dave Chesney’s sausage casing comments are completely out of touch, insensitive and uncalled for. (He should be made to wear spanx so he knows what a sausage casing actually feels like) I’m still shaking my head at them.
But while the public is rightfully outraged, he’s still only accountable to the voters in White Rock and may pay the price for such ill-advised comments… or it may blow over as these things often do.

But that same voice that speaks his mind whether you like it or not, is one of two voices on White Rock city council who, according to many White Rock residents, are actually listening to the voters. And that matters – at least to the voters in White Rock.

26 Comments on “There’s no forgiveness for Chesney’s latest chestnut,but don’t be quick to toss this councillor.

  1. I can now ‘read’ between your lines.. a bit….this issue really ticks you off. The style of editing/writing changed. And I am glad that anger was in defense of a doofus who said something stupid but was essentially harmless. We have become a society of witch-hunters and men’s generally ignorant perspective on women (which does not make them misogynists – just ignorant) has become the target-of-choice for so many. I don’t defend ignorant behaviour, I try to educate instead. AND, just for the record, women don’t always ‘get’ men either and their comments about us and our feelings are just as ignorant. Anyway, I am glad you saw past that faux pas and recognize an otherwise ethical and honest man at work even if he is not a complete Alan Alda (sensitive guy) as well. You are practicing your motto: the truth has no agenda.

  2. Hit publish in mid edit and boom…lol.. it went out. Fixed up now 😉

    Yes this issues irks me! I find his comments totally ridiculous,in particular about working right up to the last moment. News flash, most women have to work right up to the last moment,not because they want a full year off with baby, but because financially going on maternity leave is a financial burden at a time when expenses increase due to baby! So of course women work to the last moment unless medical reasons prevent that.

    Clearly, the comments are unacceptable in this day and age. But so is Baldwins pouncing on this to use as political ammo by bringing up something in a manner which is clearly different from the way it sounds in the CBC story.

    As I said above,he should be made to wear spanx in a size too small in public so he gets the full context of how his words make many women feel.

    But he should also be given full props for his ability to bring opposition and questions to a council that appears to prefer not answering any…

    • There is confusion here as to whether the author of the comments was Chesney or those of an unknown person speaking
      in Chesney’s White Rock Sun. Big difference.

      • The ridiculous comments made about pregnancy were Chesney’s- no confusion there.

        The defamatory comments Baldwin states Chesney recently made about a councillor, in the CBC article above (totally separate incident) that he uses to indicate a pattern, were not made by Chesney but by a feature writer in Chesneys paper.

  3. Thank God there are still women like Laila who can put matters in perspective, Chesney was a damned fool in his remarks about pregnant women but that scarcely makes him a damned fools in all things. We’re all damned fools sometimes and in some things – we just notice others better than we notice ourselves.

  4. Diplomacy reigns! Thank you, Laila.

    Those silly remarks go right back to the fifties when, I recall, nearly every one of my school mates’ mothers was pregnant. It’s hardly news that things are different now!

  5. Who cares what he says about how pregnant women wear. I want to know how he votes on issues which will effect the baby once its born. I want to know how he votes on issues which effect the lives of the baby’s parents. If he doesn’t like what pregnant women wear he ought to keep it to himself, but we still have freedom of speech and he gets covered by that. I may object to what you say, but i’ll defend your right to say, sort of thing.

    would not be surprised the comment is getting more traction than usual due to who he is and who doesn’t like him politically. Its like, just because Christy Clark says she likes you outfit while you’re pregnant, doesn’t make the schools in B.C. better. then there is Steve in Ottawa. Doesn’t matter how often he says the outfit looks great, he still passed bill C-51.

    • It’s raised such a backlash because of the recent story of the horrible letters and emails Global BC personality Kristi Gordon received about her appearance on TV while pregnant- this story resonated so much with people that it was even reported overseas

      She looks amazing in everything she wears and while people are fine to have an opinion in general, it’s way over the line the way viewers commented personally to he in emails and letters telling her what to wear or how she looks. And although some say it is a generational thing, that doesn’t excuse it. When we know better, we do better.

      So on the heels of that very big story, this took off and rightfully so- he should bear the burden of these particular comments,which are ridiculous.

      But using that as political ammo to make a ‘pattern’, as mentioned by the mayor in that CBC story, is politically convenient. And the mayor knows this. I haven’t had occasion to speak to Dave in a long time. more than a year I think,and his most recent comments here came on a post I wrote a few weeks ago, so I can’t speak to anything other than what has been reported and what I know of how White Rock council conducts business.

      I see this morning he has not only posted an apology but is also questioning the interviews appearance now, a month after it was first done. and

      • I am pretty much a fan of yours or else I wouldn’t read you. You know that. But it is a sad commentary that a sane response (yours) to a silly remark of little consequence (Chesney’s) gets so lauded. It should be appreciated by your readers, of course, but quietly. We should expect sanity not be overjoyed by it. But think about it: we (all the men commenting above) are overly congratulatory that you (a woman talking about a man’s gender insensitivity) are sane and reasoned about it. Sanity and reason are why we read you. But, still, we clapped and stamped our feet. I wanted to whistle and howl as well! Is that not a statement about the modern, semi-hysterical phenomena of ‘witch-hunting’ in this society or what!?

      • I did hear about the request that people not comment on her cloths, but I didn’t realize it had been such a big thing. Like really people take the time to write nasty things to a news person about their wardrobe? they need to get lives or pay attention to their own lives. perhaps they could volunteer somewhere or go pick up litter.

        Why anyone would consider they had the “right” to make nasty comments about another person’s wardrobe is beyond me. It might be because they can do it anonymously. Very bad manners. As they used to say, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

  6. I sent a link to this story to my favourite local city councillor, and he mailed this link back:

    i.e. the same stuff without the fashion statements. It’s the sneakiness and fabrications that hurt.

    The stone-age comments re:pregnancy need to be separated out, as you have, and dealt with appropriately, as you have. Great piece, a nice mixture of anger, temperance, perception and wisdom. Thank you.

  7. When walking by an elementary school this morning, I saw a little boy pull a little girl’s hair.

    • I assume it occured in sexist White Rock.

      I think that boy should be hauled up in front of a tribunal of psychologists and recieve endless hours of sensitivity training. All at taxpayers expense, of course.

      The horror and the pablum.

      • white rock is not sexist. it does have quite a lot of seniors who are entitled and have earned the right to express their opinions. they remember the day when people were less sensitive about trivial things and had a sense of humour and did not have to worry about everyones sensitive feelings because they had more important issues to deal with ie., back then maternity leave was 6 weeks unpaid., not even allowed to collect unemployment.

  8. i think far to much attention is given to that silly remark. personally, i found the comment re the sausage link rather funny. pregnant women should wear whatever they feel comfortable with.
    when i was pregnant years ago, women wore the baggy maternity wear. think that would be far more comfortable than the tight fitting. you are pregnant, we get it – congratulations, noneed to look at your belly button.

  9. Laila et al way to much P.C. male or female a large belly can be unsightly Does anyone look good in sausage wrap? Might. I suggest turn the channel if what you see on T.V.offends you. Why are these comments even worth reading.

  10. Having listened and spoken to Mr. Chesney I can believe he is truly sorry for his insensitive remarks and is learning fast how critical issues can be derailed easily by reference to hot button topics.

    With respect to the public response it is important to be aware how easily our attention can be diverted from holding elected officials to account for reducing/eliminating dissenting opinions along with those who may hold them.

  11. From reading the article(s) in PAN over the last few weeks. I suspect Mr. Chesney’s comments speak to a larger concern for the citizens of White Rock. While he compalins (whines) that his antics have cost him ‘thousands’ in legal fees. What about the citizens of White Rock? They too have had to pay for the City’s legal fees, staff time to ‘clean up’ messes created by Mr. Chesney.

    Mr. Chesney’s comments and alleged defamation should make White Rock Tax payers take note.

    This is only 4 months in on a 4 year term. How much more is his behaviour going to cost the taxpayers?

    There is a way to work within the ‘system’ effectively and represent those that ‘feel disenfranchised’ and then there is just stirring up trouble. Personally I don’t buy the ‘conspiracy’ theories that Mr. Chesney is ‘floating’. Simple google search unearths much about statements he has said. Including this isn’t his first reference to ‘sausage casing’ — goes back to the lulu lemon and chip wilson comments.

    • The comments Chesney made with regards to pregnant womens attire and pregnancy in general have no bearing on legal expenditures at city hall, whatsoever.

      Another councillor is now refuting mayor Baldwins comments. It seems as time goes on,that this story becomes more compelling and that perhaps the mayor should be letting the public know as to why his comments are perceived to be incorrect or false.

      ” second White Rock city councillor is disputing a statement made by the mayor last week in regards to allegedly defamatory online comments that led to the censure of Coun. David Chesney.

      After Mayor Wayne Baldwin told Peace Arch News that information published on Chesney’s website was “a matter of privilege” – an allegation Chesney denied – Coun. Helen Fathers said she was “upset by the changing stance” of the mayor.

      Fathers told PAN that Baldwin made no prior mention to council about privileged information being published, which would have led to harsher consequences for Chesney.

      “If that would have happened, we would have actually been in an in-camera meeting, which we weren’t,” Fathers said Monday. “This council would for sure be following process if Coun. Chesney had released privileged information. There’s a process attached to that. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

      Baldwin did not return PAN’s calls by press deadline.”

      Mayor Baldwin certainly needs to clarify his comments to the press,I would think. But then again perhaps he feels he doesn’t need to, much like he didn’t feel question period was worthy of keeping either.