Last Sunday, the Globe and Mail posted an article by columnist Leah McLaren describing how, approximately ten years ago, she almost breast-fed the infant son of Michael Chong, a prominent conservative politician. In the most embarrassing passage of an ill-conceived column, McLaren wrote:
I walked into a bedroom with coats piled high on the bed and noticed that in the corner, sitting wide awake in a little portable car seat, was the cutest baby I’d ever seen. On the table beside him was a monitor. I smiled at the baby, the baby smiled back. Now this was a connection.
I leaned over and gingerly picked him up and then sat down in a chair to give him a cuddle. He felt gorgeous in my arms, all warm and lumpy and milky-smelling in the way small babies are. Somehow, my pinky finger ended up in his mouth and I was astonished at strength of his sucking reflex. “C’mon lady,” said his eyes. And I suddenly knew what he wanted. And I of course wanted to give him what he wanted. The only problem was, I had no milk. But would it be so bad, I wondered, if I just tried it out—just for a minute—just to see what it felt like?
I looked at the baby monitor as if it might be watching me, but thankfully this was before monitors had cameras.
Then slowly, carefully so as not to jostle the infant, I began to unbutton my blouse. Just as I was reaching into my bra, a shortish man with in a navy suit walked into the room.
The man who walked in was Michael Chong. McLaren handed the baby over to him, bringing to a close an episode that she now acknowledges was “wrong and rude and frankly a bit weird of me.”
The Globe and Mail quickly removed the article but it still exists in a cached form and has garnered international attention. The Globe and Mail has now suspended McLaren and forbidden her from talking to the press.
But Lactate-gate, as the scandal deserves to be called, isn’t over yet. After all, there must have been editors who approved of the story before publication. What did they know about the attempted breastfeeding and when did they know it?