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How a Facebook comment about fish and chips led to an ethics complaint against an elected official in B.C.

The Moby Dick restaurant has been serving up its famous fish and chips on the White Rock promenade since it was founded by the Mueller family in 1975. But one local city councillor clearly isn’t a fan.

Commenting below a positive post about the Moby Dick, Coun. David Chesney wrote: “Living off its reputation for decades. When Peter Mueller left, so did the #1 rating. Go next door to Coney Island where all the locals eat.”

The current owner of the Moby Dick responded on the restaurant’s own Facebook page, telling customers it has filed a formal ethics complaint against councillor Chesney with the city of White Rock.

The letter addressed to the city’s chief administrative officer reads in part: “These comments are defamatory and are not supported by facts. Moreover, these comments are aimed at hurting my business by encouraging other people to avoid my restaurant and to visit another place next door.”


John Alexander, a lawyer who specializes in municipal litigation, points out the City of White Rock did adopt a new code of conduct bylaw for elected officials in March 2023.

“It does say that one of the things councillors should not do is defame another person. But the bylaw is clearly addressed to councillors acting in their capacity as city councillors and conducting city business,” said Alexander.

University of the Fraser Valley political science professor Hamish Telford says the dispute illustrates the challenges elected officials face when posting public opinions on social media.

“Although he may have thought that he was making a personal comment, it could be construed by the business owner as an official comment coming from a sitting city councillor and hence the business owner taking exception to these comments,” said Telford.

“All politicians do have to be more careful when they are making these sorts of comments, because it’s impossible for people to separate their official capacity from their personal capacity, particularly when the comments are coming from social media accounts that are used for both purposes.”


CTV reached out to David Chesney for comment on the ethics complaint, but didn’t receive a reply. It’s not the first time the councillor’s public comments have landed him in hot water.

On a podcast in 2015, Chesney talked about his distaste for modern maternity wear, saying: “They can’t get any more skin tight, and it looks like sausage casings. Their belly button is actually pushing through the material. And I kind of look at that and go, I get it, you’re pregnant. Why is there such a desire to push that in front of everyone?”

Alexander says those types of comments would be far more likely to run afoul of city hall ethics bylaws than the social media post about the restaurant.

“This new code specifically says that you won’t breach the human rights code or say anything that’s bullying or harassing, so I would think had this bylaw been in place in 2015, he definitely would have faced a complaint from someone or more people that might have had much more legitimacy,” said Alexander.

As for the Moby Dick’s official complaint about Chesney’s Facebook comment, the lawyer doubts it will go anywhere at White Rock city hall.

“Councillors have a private life outside of being a councillor, and I would think this councillor’s comments are unlikely connected to anything that he is dealing with as a city councillor. So whether the bylaw applies at all — probably not.”

On the advice of his lawyer, the owner of the Moby Dick is not speaking to the media. Like David Chesney, he’s making all his comments on Facebook. Top Stories

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