Kissing Babies

It’s federal election time again in Canada. So when the parties call you or knock on your door, you should probably ask then what they think about public breastfeeding.

Because if you don’t ask, they won’t know it’s important. And it is.

And they won’t say anything about it. And they should.

What should happen every time a woman is in the news for being kicked out of a store for breastfeeding in public, is a loud vocal reminder from politicians that they’ve already made a law that prevents discriminating against breastfeeding: a federal law, a provincial law, and yes you can even have a municipal law that protects breastfeeding, though these are rare.

But what actually happens when it comes to politicians…. is very little.

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Private vs Public

About a week after I was kicked out of a store in Montreal, a similar incident occurred in Vancouver. (The date on the story says March 23, but it was first published on January 11.)

According to the Vancouver Sun, the store owner told mother Samantha Watt that “It was shocking to me, especially when she said, ‘I can do what I want,’” he alleged. “I told her it was a private space compared to a public space.”

It’s a commonly held opinion. In fact several people wrote to me to tell me that they think stores are private spaces and store owners should be able to do what they want.

They are wrong.
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A Petition for a New Law

Canadians already have the legal right to breastfeed in public. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives all women in Canada this right. However, not many people are aware of this.

An official government petition has been set up to push for a clarification to the law to explicitly protect the rights of women to breastfeed in Quebec. This would bring Québec law more in line with the laws of BC, Ontario and Nova-Scotia. These provinces clearly describe a woman’s right to breastfeed in public in their provincial human rights tribunal guidelines.

The petition is being sponsored by the MNA for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Carole Poirier, who is also the official opposition spokesperson for family matters. If you’re a resident of the province, you can sign it. All the signatures need to be in by April 25.

Sign the Québec government petition

A tired hungry baby

Yesterday I was asked to stop breastfeeding my baby.  And I’m pissed.

I was shopping at Orchestra, a kids’ clothing store at the Complexe Les Ailes shopping centre in downtown Montreal. They have a small semi-secluded seating area for kids with movies playing. My older kids were sitting in their stroller watching the movie when my youngest got hungry. So I fed her. She’s 5 months old and she eats breastmilk. From my actual breast. Shocking, I know!

I wasn’t even the only mother breastfeeding. I was being discrete, as if it matters, which it doesn’t (but that’s for another blog post). And I hadn’t finished shopping.

And that’s when the store clerk showed up and asked us both to stop.
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