POLITICS

Alberta councillor says she won't waver after complaining about baby at work

03/14/2012 03:27 EDT | Updated 05/14/2012 05:12 EDT
DRAYTON VALLEY, Alta. - A rural Alberta politician who complained about a fellow councillor bringing her baby to work says she is the victim of a media stunt orchestrated by her colleagues.

Brazeau County Coun. Pat Monteith wrote in a newspaper column Wednesday that she is not backing down.

"I will NOT waver," Monteith wrote in the weekly Breton Booster.

"As your elected representative, I believe you need to be informed — even if it means advising you of items some members of council don't like me to tell you about."

Monteith found herself at the centre of a debate last week after she complained in a previous column that Coun. Kara Westerlund had turned council chambers into a nursery by bringing her baby to meetings.

She wrote that the baby was distracting and disruptive.

The county's remaining five councillors voiced their support for Westerlund, who said she was shocked by Monteith's opinion.

Westerlund said she needs to bring her two-month-old girl, who barely cries, to day-long council meetings because she is breastfeeding.

Monteith has declined interviews since the baby debate made national headlines. She broke her silence in the followup column Wednesday.

"It appears that the latest intimidation attempt (media stunt) by my fellow councillors was orchestrated ... to again discourage me from communicating with you, the ratepayers.

"Onwards and upwards!" she wrote, before asking readers to "beat the bushes for some good candidates" for the next municipal election in October.

Coun. Wes Tweedle said Monteith often uses the column to criticize her colleagues. He and another councillor told her last year that the newspaper was not an appropriate venue to voice her concerns.

"She told us she didn't need a lecture."

Tweedle said no one is trying to intimidate Monteith, and he isn't aware of any councillor who contacted the media about her opinion on the baby.

"It was her that brought it to the media," he said. "It took off on its own after that."

He said Westerlund has continued bringing her baby to meetings, and so far the child hasn't been distracting. She sleeps most of the time.

"Meetings are public and that baby is a part of the public," Tweedle said. "That's the bottom line."

— By Chris Purdy in Edmonton