Last Wednesday, the Globe and Mail* published a column by Leah McLaren titled: “The joy (and politics) of breastfeeding someone else’s baby.” The post was quietly removed the same day, but did not escape the internet’s notice when an archived version circulated on Twitter Sunday evening.
The piece’s setup is strange: McLaren says Canada’s current political campaigns recall for her “the time I tried to breastfeed Michael Chong’s baby.” (Chong, a conservative member of Canada’s parliament, is in the running to lead his party.) McLaren claims she and the politician attended the same house party back when she was “about 25” (according to her Wikipedia page, McLaren is now 41), single, and “broody in the way that young women in their late 20s often are.”
Having wandered upstairs, McLaren writes, she found herself in a bedroom containing “the cutest baby.” They exchange smiles, and McLaren thrills at “the connection.” Then, according to her post, she picks the baby up, and he proceeds to suck on her finger. “And I of course,” she writes, “wanted to give him what he wanted.”
Just as she’s beginning to unbutton her shirt, a man walks in and politely asks McLaren to hand him his son. “The man, of course, was Michael Chong,” she claims. “I never caught the baby’s name.” McLaren then allows that attempting to experience the sensation of breastfeeding without consent was “wrong and rude and frankly a bit weird.” She continues: “I think if I found a strange woman — one who was both childless and milkless — nursing my baby at a party I’d be inclined to give her a swift smack upside the head and then call the police.”
From there, she goes on to describe later breastfeeding her friends’ babies (“doesn’t actually feel odd at all”), and to wonder why using “wet nurses” (lactating caretakers), a practice with a complex and controversial history, isn’t more “of a thing.”
The internet was quick to judge McLaren’s alleged actions:
Twitter sleuths also did some math, as recapped by Huffington Post Canada: “If McLaren was 25 at the time, it would have been the year 2000. That baby would now be around 16 years old, while Chong’s eldest son is 12.”
Other Twitter users couldn’t resist calling back to another recent Chong incident:
In which Chong’s image was used on a poster about sanitation in public bathrooms in Guatemala:
The Globe and Mail has previously come under fire for publishing McLaren: In 2012, she attempted to sell her own house in a real-estate column.
We have reached out to the Globe and Mail for a comment and will update when we have a response.
*This post has been updated to include the Globe and Mail’s full name.