A city councillor in Oshawa faced a Children's Aid Society investigation after a complainant said the breastfeeding politician was endangering her newborn by bringing her to the council chambers.
We're not kidding.
Amy England told her local paper on Thursday that the anonymous complaint was filed after she brought her daughter, Amelia, to the first council meeting of the year in January. Her daughter was born just a few weeks earlier.
"Obviously I was upset and I spoke to Children’s Aid at length and they indicated to me they had no concerns for me and my daughter, and that breastfeeding my baby was in no way putting her in danger," she told Oshawa Today.
Apparently, the local Children’s Aid Society has a legal obligation to investigate all complaints, even if they’re ridiculous.
"They made it very clear that they weren’t concerned and they also made it very clear that they had to do a follow up by law," added England, who said she brings her daughter to work in a pinch if a council meeting is expected to run long and if she can't pump enough milk to leave her newborn at home.
That's the good news: local authorities recognize there's no issue here.
But how about the person who lodged the complaint?
England nails it, politely.
"I know it’s contentious, and I understand being a working mother is not everyone’s choice, but it’s mine," she said. "I’m trying to balance my duties as a councillor and feeding my daughter, which means she has to be at work with me sometimes."
This isn't the first time a new mom has raised eyebrows for juggling her parental duties and those of her constituents.
Back in 2012, NDP Member of Parliament Sana Hassainia brought her 3-month old into the House of Commons; she hadn't planned on it, but her husband was briefly unavaible to tend to their son, Skander-Jack.
What followed was a flare-up on Parliament Hill after she says she was asked to remove her baby from the Chambers just before a key vote that she didn't want to miss.
Maria Mourani, a Bloc MP at the time and first elected in 2006, raised the Hassainia case as a point of privilege. She explained that she had missed votes after the birth of her son in 2007 because she understood there was an informal rule against bringing babies into the House of Commons for votes.
(Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled on Mourani's point of privilege with a message that was pretty clear: new moms should be able to sort out child care arrangements so they don’t have to bring their babies into the Chamber for pre-scheduled votes. And if emergencies arise, let him know ahead of time. "If your baby decides to wake up and is hungry and the bell rings (for the vote), you can’t plan that. The Speaker is out in left-field. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t breastfed," Mourani explained to Postmedia News at the time.)
Fast-forward to 2014, and here we are again. This time, we're in Oshawa council chambers involving another young female politician named Amy England.
"We’re very concerned that she appears to be under attack for bringing her newborn to work, obviously we believe she’s fulfilling her duties as a duly elected councillor and she’s in no way compromising her baby or herself by having her child with her," Equal Voice executive director Nancy Peckford, told Oshawa Today.
"We actually think she’s an outstanding role model for other women who may be interested in running for politics who may have children or may be considering having children."
What she said.