As soon as I saw the polling numbers rising for the NDP, I knew it was only a matter of time before some deep, dark secret in Jack Layton's ancient past creeped into the light - coincidentally, I'm sure.
Of course, every party is going to claim that they would *never* stoop to such depths, and that the only tie they MIGHT have to such info is if it were revealed to Sun Media by one of their supporters without their prior knowledge... a claim that I'm sure most Canadians will believe, as the parties have no reason to LIE about such things...
At least we have a list longer than one potential culprit... The Tories are trying to fight off the NDP in Ontario, the BQ is trying to fight them off in Quebec, and the Liberals are trying to fight them off in 308 ridings. So the "whodunit" game will at least be entertaining.
But the allegations are unsubstantiated crap.
That's right - I said it.
Now, let's be perfectly clear: I'm not a Jack Layton fan. And I'm about as likely to cast a ballot for my local NDP candidate on Monday as I am to sprout wings and fly around the polling station terrifying villagers. This is not a politically-motivated defence of Layton.
What it IS, is a REALITY-based defence of Layton.
Here's what happened:
Toronto Police, in 1996, entered a licensed massage parlour in Toronto's Chinatown looking for underage prostitution and sex acts. What they FOUND was city councillor John (Jack) Layton, in a second floor studio, naked and mellow with an attractive masseuse in the room.
The masseuse, whose mastery of English is suspect (based on the notes taken by police) became flustered during questioning.
Layton, when asked if he knew of sex acts being performed on the premises, responded "No, sir.". Asked if he himself had received any, he replied "No sir, I was just getting a shiatsu."
Which is EXACTLY how this would have gone if he were 100% innocent. Layton was never charged with anything - which, considering the political climate at the time and the fact that Toronto Police considered him anti-cop, is probably a pretty good sign that they had not a SHRED of evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.
And make no mistake: This same scene could be repeated anywhere, with anyone who receives a massage.
Case in point: I went for a therapeutic massage last week in Calgary (an excellent place - if you're looking in SE Calgary, email me for their details). If one of my blogging arch-nemeses (say, Alberta Tory or Alheli Picazo) were to have found out about my appointment and sent a tip in to cops, here's what they would have found when they burst into the massage studio:
"Enlightened Savage was lying on a table, covered by a towel. He later indicated he was told to get into "whatever state of undress he was most comfortable with". Client was partially covered in oil, and had been receiving services from an attractive (college-educated and licensed) massage therapist. When asked if he was receiving sexual services, Savage responded 'Are you flipping kidding me? Blue Cross would NEVER cover that! My lower back's killing me and I'm here for a massage!'. When asked if he was aware of sexual acts being performed on the premises, Savage responded 'Seriously? That kind of thing really happens?!? I thought Shane at CalgaryRants was bluffing... No. I was unaware. Now go bug someone else please.'"SCANDAL! the blogs would scream the next day, outing me as some sort of deviant or misanthrope. "He doesn't respect women!" others would scream. The only problems with those assertions being a) nothing actually HAPPENED, and b) I've never requested a specific masseuse in my life, and just as frequently find a male therapist trying to work on my back and messed-up hip as I find a female one. It's luck of the draw. Male, female, attractive, not... I don't care. I'm not there to look. I'm there for a massage. Do I hold my chiropractor to some sort of sexual or aesthetic standards? Hardly. (Sorry Dr. S, you're an awesome guy but I just don't feel that way about you!)
Look... if you want to talk about why Layton's policies would be potentially devastating to the Albertan or Canadian economy, let's have that discussion. If you want to debate the qualifications of his candidates, that's fine. His readiness to lead? I'll talk about that all day.
But Jack Layton received a massage in 1996, and he was naked?
No wonder people hate politics.