Christy Clark defends controversial cleavage
B.C.'s premier says the suggestion that her cleavage-revealing outfit in the provincial legislature this week was inappropriate is "unfair criticism" that dissuades young girls from entering politics.
Christy Clark's V-neck, which she wore underneath a blazer, led former New Democrat MLA David Schreck to issue a Tweet during question period Wednesday critiquing the premier's choice of attire.
On Friday, Clark told reporters she is "used to stupid criticism," but Schreck's comments could have a cooling effect on efforts to encourage women to enter the political arena.
"We all want our daughters to be willing to step up and be leaders someday," Clark said. "I don't think we can groom a lot of young female leaders if this is the level of comment we have."
NDP Leader Adrian Dix called on Schreck to apologize for his comments, but the longtime party supporter refused.
"I've declined that opportunity," Schreck said Thursday. "I think my position is not sexist, I think it is correct – that there is appropriate dress for appropriate occasions."
Schreck said his Tweet, which read "Is Premier Clark's cleavage revealing attire appropriate for the legislature?" has been misrepresented as a sexist attack on women and an unfair characterization of female politicians.
But both male and female MLAs are subject to a strict dress code in the legislature, he added.
"If you come into the legislature as a man without a tie, the Sergeant-at-Arms will approach you and tell you to leave," Schreck said.
"Certainly if you're representing the province as the premier, you dress for the occasion – and showing substantial cleavage is not appropriate."
Female politicians from both the provincial Liberal and NDP parties have expressed disappointment at Schreck's comments, saying they highlight the unfortunate differences between how male and female politicians are treated.
Former NDP Leader Carole James said she used to receive regular letters criticizing her hairstyle or wardrobe choices.
Last month, an Ontario MP found herself at the centre of controversy when it was discovered her official House of Commons photo had been airbrushed to remove her cleavage.
Rathika Sitsabaiesan said she was troubled by the amount of coverage the edited image garnered, saying it suggests women are objectified in politics.
Both Clark and Schreck have said they hope to draw attention back to more pertinent issues.
"We should be talking about creating jobs because that's what British Columbians want to see," Clark said.