(This column was published in the North Shore News on May 29, 2002)

 

Federal scandals intrigue

 By Leo Knight

For the most part, our political scandals are quite boring in Canada.

 

In Britain scandals are salacious, involving sex, intrigue, sex, prostitutes and more sex.

 

There was the one of the middle-aged party leaders romping around a shower room in Westminster with a female staffer, clad only in his socks. OK, the visual's not good, but the story was great.

 

And the granddaddy of them all, the Profumo Affair, which toppled a senior cabinet minister and nearly a government and spawned a steamy movie.

 

And another, of a junior (male) cabinet minister found dead in a strange manner of deshabille, wearing garter belt, suspenders, stockings and spiked pumps.

 

In the United States, former President Bill Clinton also seemed to have had difficulty keeping his zipper up. He was impeached for sharing more than just a cigar with intern Monica Lewinsky and lying about it.

 

Here, we get the tiresome Don Boudria getting in trouble spending the weekend with his own wife and kids. No mistress in a romantic mountain chalet. No illicit tryst with a smoky blonde harlot.

 

He lost his job on Sunday following a turbulent few weeks as he vainly tried to defend a weekend spent in the home of Claude Boulay, president of Groupe Everest, a Quebec advertising firm which has dined out large on government lolly.

 

Actually, Boudria's attempts to shine on the whole matter has been oh-so-typically Canadian. There was no mysterious spymaster like G. Gordon Liddy or loyal henchmen falling on their swords like John Mitchell. Nah, here we have the spectacle of a cabinet minister seeking sanctuary by hiding behind the robes of a Catholic priest.

 

But this whole debacle has not been without its moments of amusement. Lloydminster MP Gerry Ritz summed it up best when he said this in Question Period: "Let us see if we can figure out where the cheque really went. It went from the minister's daughter-in-law to the chalet owner to the priest, then to the photocopier, then to the bank, then back to the priest, then back to the owner and then to the bank again, we think. It never did go in the collection plate."

 

Not to be outdone, Tory MP Peter MacKay, touted by many to be the "Next One should Joe Who ever learn to read the writing on the wall," fired at Immigration Minister Denis Coderre on Friday.

 

Coderre has done his own little flip in initially denying he accepted the largesse of the same Claude Boulay.

 

No I didn't. Well, yes I did. But it's OK, I wasn't the minister then.

 

Any contracts given since then by his ministry apparently had nothing to do with any previous relationship between them.

 

MacKay, in pointing out the minister's troubles said, "We found that the immigration minister also stayed at a Boulay condo in 1997. Palais Boulay pyjama parties aside, these ministerial sleepovers have got to stop.

 

"The prime minister avoided this question yesterday. Can the deputy prime minister confirm how many members of his cabinet bedded down with the Boulays, who were benefactors and beneficiaries of his government?"

 

Perhaps not the same as being caught cavorting in your wet socks with a curvy assistant, but at least the language is beginning to get interesting.

 

Back to Question Period, our national "Theatre of the Absurd." Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, the "Man Who Would be King," tried to spice up the debate by comparing Opposition MPs who dare question the integrity of the Liberals to prostitutes in the Byward Market area of Ottawa.

 

MPs as whores? Why, Mr. Manley, what are you suggesting?

 

Then, on Saturday, news broke that Defence Minster Art Eggleton had paid $36,500 to his former girlfriend, Maggie Maier and her firm, One World Communications, for a research paper on post traumatic stress disorder in the Armed Forces.

 

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Bound to be something a little more racy in this one.

 

On Sunday, Eggleton tried to minimize the situation. Reaching for a little Shakespearean assistance, he said, "Much ado is being made about nothing by the media and then the Opposition."

 

Over to the former lover: "I wanted to do this contract because I'm qualified and I have the experience to do it," she shared in an interview on CTV.

 

Oh really? Such As?

 

Well, she suffered from numerous medical problems stemming from an environment-related illness. Well, of course. What was the Opposition thinking? Do they think that being paid the paltry amount of $36,500 for a 14-page report she should actually have some credentials? Especially when the contract was issued several months after Ombudsman Andre Marin announced he was commencing a study into the same thing.

 

He, by the way, produced a slightly more in-depth study, weighing in at 217 pages.

 

When questioned about the propriety of this arrangement, ministry spokesman Randy Mylyk did his soon-to-be-ex-boss no favour whatsoever. I'm quite certain he meant no double entendre in telling the National Post she had done a lot of in-depth interviewing: "There was a lot research from that sense, from an oral perspective, that was taken into account to provide the broad strokes..."

 

Maybe our scandals are getting more interesting after all.

 

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