Mayor Darrell Mussatto unexpectedly chimed in with a vulgar reference to a woman’s private parts.
“Is Camel toe the same as Elephant’s feet? Are they interchangeable?” Mayor Darrell Mussatto wondered aloud at a council meeting on December 11 after a female city official had just finished explaining elephant’s feet, a technical term for painted lines that run parallel to crosswalk markings to indicate cyclists are permitted to ride through the crosswalk.
The council had been discussing the wisdom of allowing such a change, and the councillors had searching questions from the staff on how this change could impact the safety of the cyclists as well as drivers. It was an important if a bit dreary conversation when Mayor Mussatto unexpectedly chimed in with a vulgar reference to a woman’s private parts.
How did this happen? Was this a mere slip of tongue? The video recording of the council meeting suggests otherwise. The camera is quickly moved to empty chairs but not before it records the embarrassing smiles of female staff.
When it returns we see a playful, laughing Mayor Mussatto, seemingly happy to have lightened up a drab conversation with a witty remark. Councillor Rod Clark warns with a single word, “careful”, but it hardly stops the mayor’s energetic laugh.
Now the Mayor is seeking an apology for his comments and offering an explanation of how he mixed up the animals and managed to bring female anatomy in a discussion about pavement markings.
“I apologize if there was any reference to any vulgar expression. That was totally not my intent nor did I know that there was such a referral. Rather since we had recently opened a public art piece featuring a camel, I was inferring we had camels instead of elephants in our town. No other reference was intended or inferred. Again I apologize if it was but anything vulgar was certainly not my intent,” he told The Global Canadian.
Even though the video suggests otherwise, we hope the Mayor had indeed ONNI’s controversial camel in mind.
Standards of public speech and conduct have nosedived recently. Last year has put a harsh spotlight on behaviour of men in powerful, responsible positions.
It’s reasonable to say that the #metoo campaign of 2017 has its roots in the protests surrounding US President Donald Trump’s vulgar ‘Grab them by the P@#$$” comment. He later apologized but that hasn’t stopped him from making lewd and insulting comments about women and he has plenty of company in the US and all around the world of men denigrating women with words and actions.
Luckily, standards of speech in Canada haven’t slipped as low as the rest of the world although a recent Canadian Press survey of female MPs reveals as many as 58 per cent say they have been the targets of remarks and gestures that were inappropriate.
Councillors Pam Bookham, Holly Back, and Linda Buchanan didn’t respond to questions about Mayor Mussatto’s comments.
Hopefully, the Mayor realises he shares the council chamber with women councillors and staff and in future he will follow his fellow Councillor Rod Clark’s pithy advice to be “careful” when he makes the subconscious leap from elephant to a camel.