Kara Westerlund, a Brazeau County councillor, is speaking out after a
fellow councillor publicly criticized her for bringing her newborn to
As an elected official, Westerlund didn't
qualify for traditional maternity leave. She also says she felt obliged
to keep working for the people who elected her, so she returned to work
shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Taylor, in December. Unlike
most working moms, though, Westerlund brought along her new baby with
her, not realizing that one of her co-workers had an issue with that.
didn't find out about the problem until she read about it in her
community's local paper, the Breton Booster. Fellow councillor Pat
Monteith used her monthly column in the paper to write about her disdain
for the situation, saying: "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?"
"I was at a loss for words and then when I did get a chance to think about it, it is really disheartening," says Westerlund.
mother says her child spends most of the morning sleeping at the
meeting, and when she gets hungry around lunchtime, she gets breastfed.
comment has been made two hours into a meeting, 'oh we didn't even know
the baby was here, and the look of shock when they see that the baby's
been here the whole time and they had no idea she was here speaks for
itself," she says.
While Westerlund is disappointed about
Monteith's remarks, especially in today's day and age, it appears as
though her colleague's sentiment is shared by the rest of council.
one person's opinion, and everyone's entitled to their opinion, but at
the end of the day, democracy says 6 beats one," says Brazeau County
Reeve Wes Teedle.
"She's doing her job, and if it's
distracting, I'm sure she'll leave the room. At this point in time, it
hasn't been a problem. She's been able to carry on as a councillor and
do her job without any disruption, and I've got to admire her for
Other mothers in the community also coming to Westerlund's defence and asking Monteith to apologize.
think there are a lot of decisions she could've made to harm her child.
And she's getting criticized for the one decision that's one of the
best things she could do for her child," says Laura Lien.
with more of that kind of support, Westerlund says she plans to keep
bringing taylor to council until she's able to take a bottle and can
Global News tried contacting councillor Pat Monteith for comment. Our phone calls and e-mails, however, were not returned.