A former New Democrat MLA is coming under fire for questioning whether B.C. Premier Christy Clark showed too much cleavage Wednesday afternoon in the provincial legislature.

The backlash began after political pundit David Schreck posed a query on his Twitter account during question period.

"Is Premier Clark's cleavage revealing attire appropriate for the legislature?" Schreck Tweeted.

The premier, who has not commented on the controversy, was wearing a black V-neck underneath a blazer.

On Thursday, NDP Leader Adrian Dix demanded an apology from the longtime party supporter, saying he disagreed with the suggestion that Clark may have dressed inappropriately.

"Mr. Schreck's comments were wrong," Dix said. "I know how hard it is to be in politics, and I think it's probably hard for Mrs. Clark as well. There are challenges every day for her and her family."

Schreck defended his comments to CTV News, saying they had been misrepresented as a sexist attack on women or an unfair characterization of female politicians.

"It's none of that," Schreck said. "It's a fair statement on what is appropriate attire in the legislature."

Both male and female MLAs are subject to a strict dress code, 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."

Liberal cabinet minister Mary Polak called the insinuation shocking, and said comments like Schreck's dissuade women from entering politics.

"We're working very hard to encourage more and more women to enter politics. It's a difficult thing to convince them of, and comments like this just make it that much harder."

Former NDP leader Carole James agreed, saying the comment is indicative of the difference between how male and female politicians are treated.

James said she used to receive regular letters as leader criticizing her hairstyle and wardrobe choices.

"I would guarantee that it's pretty rare that you would have a male politician that would get a letter saying, ‘Why would you wear the same suit Monday that you wore on Thursday?' So I think there is a different standard," James said.

Schreck insisted his Tweet was fair, and said he's disappointed it's garnered so much attention while other topics generate so little interest.

"I wish I could get as much attention on issues like the closing of community care group homes as I've gotten on what Christy Clark wears," he said.


A previous version of this headline featured a pun that did not reflect the tone of the story. It has been removed.