Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Various news organizations are having a field day reporting salacious details of their war hero, David Petraeus and the numerous people involved in his love triangle (love decagon? Love tetra-decahedron?). The apparently out of control peccadilloes among the power elite in Washington are approaching a point where they may need to erect a sign in the Oval Office showing “hours since last workplace sex scandal”. The behavior of their generals is a major disaster. Canadians, on the other hand, are relieved our scandals mostly involve other indiscretions; $16.00 orange juice or improper military helicopter rides, that sort of thing.
Not that we don’t have sex scandals in Canada. In fact, the Repository of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, has kept track for us, surprisingly, and reports the first reported indiscretion amongst our political elite didn’t come until 1934 when Alberta premier of the day, John Edward Brownlee, was found guilty of “seduction”. The victim of the horrific crime was an 18 year-old secretary of Brownlee’s attorney-general. “Tort of Seduction” was a crime, back then which allowed a woman to sue for financial remuneration if they had agreed to sex based upon a misrepresentation. The secretary, one Vivian MacMillan, claimed Brownlee had told her sex was necessary for his health and that of his ailing wife. Miss MacMillan, with gullibility to match her beauty, went along with the arrangement for three years. When details of the affair emerged, Brownlee was forced out of office.
The first federal politician to practice headline-worthy inappropriate relations while in power, (or, at least, the first to be caught) was Pierre Sevigny, associate minister of defense under John Diefenbaker, in what has become known as “The Munsinger Affair”. Sevigny wasn’t the only politico to be drawn into the intoxicating clutches of Soviet spy and former East German… ahem… “lady of the evening”, Gerda Munsinger. It’s acknowledged the wayward woman went through Dief’s cabinet like an alky after liquor. The Chief managed to keep the bulk of the naughty revelations under the covers, however, citing “national security” concerns, with Sevigny being the only political casualty.
In 1977 came the next major Canadian scandal. It was truly epic and unlike anything you’ve seen south of the border, for eye-popping inappropriateness. I mean, can you imagine the First Lady of the United States being linked in a sex scandal involving a rock and roll band? How about if it was The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band (by their own admission); The Rolling Stones? That was the situation here when regal Pierre Trudeau’s wife (and Justin’s Mom), Margaret, became the world’s most famous groupie.
Then, in 1978, came the sordid tale of Liberal up-and-comer Francis Fox, often widely touted as leadership material, he was caught forging the signature of the husband of his mistress, granting permission for the little lady to get an abortion. It seems this is a non-no, even in Quebec. When details of his impropriety hit the glare of the public spotlight, Fox’s political “stock valuation” sunk faster than FaceBook’s after their public share offering.
There were a few more provincial scandals to break up the monotony of Canadian politics; the case of Graham Harle, for example, who was, in 1983, the Solicitor General of Alberta. As Alberta’s top cop, it made it rather uncomfortable when he was involved in conducting business in a motel parking lot with a “woman of ill repute”, in a government vehicle adorned with fluttering Alberta flags, no less. In a gutsy move, our man Harle explained that he was merely conducting research into prostitution but had come to the belief that the issue didn’t “appear to be a problem right at the moment.”
British Columbia provided the next couple sideshows, the first, in 1986, when Industry Minister, Bob McClelland was nailed for outsourcing wifely duties to the Top Hat Escort service and being foolish enough to leave a paper trail after the company attracted law enforcement attention. Then, in 1993 BC Liberal leader, Gordon Wilson, (those naughty Liberals again!) was linked to lascivious liaisons with his 27-year-old, newly appointed House Leader, Judy Tyabji. Despite vigorous and robust denials and wounded proclamations of their innocence, they both eventually resigned their respective positions in disgrace. It seemed the rumour mill was dead on the money, however, considering after their resignations, they divorced their spouses and married each other.
The scandal sheets remained silent on Canadian politicians until 2008 when Maxime Bernier, Foreign Affairs Minister in Stephen Harper’s government, accidently left his ultra-super-top-secret intelligence files at his girlfriend’s apartment. Although a seemingly innocent oversight, the slip-up was magnified by the fact that his girlfriend had strong ties with outlaw motorcycle gangs. As they say in the funny papers, “Oops!”
Sure there was the ET Canada romance watch on Peter McKay and Condoliza Rice but eventually McKay decided to go with a looker, instead. There was also Rahim Jaffer, the Federal PC member who distinguished himself as the only Alberta Conservative MP to lose his seat in the 2008 election, who was seen to receive special treatment when busted for possession of cocaine after a dangerous driving arrest.
Seriously, however, if high level political sex scandals were a sporting event, Canada would suck as a nation. Once more America is Number One.
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