Lifestyles

PRIVATE LIVES AND OPEN POLITICS

January 4 1988
Lifestyles

PRIVATE LIVES AND OPEN POLITICS

January 4 1988

PRIVATE LIVES AND OPEN POLITICS

When a Miami newspaper published details of American presidential candidate Gary Hart’s dalliance with Donna Rice aboard a yacht named Monkey Business, the disclosure prompted the front-running Democrat to quit the campaign last May. He rejoined the con-

test in December but had lost his head start. Had the same disclosures been directed at a politician in Canada, the indications are that most Canadians would not have cared: 64 per cent of respondents to The Maclean's/ Decima Poll said that a sexual indiscretion would have no impact on their voting. As Edmonton secretary Carrol Harnell, 39, put it: “I don’t think personal life and business life

should mingle. Let him get on with the job he has to do. If he wants to have a girlfriend on the side, that’s his business.” Still, the results held no comfort for promiscuous politicians. One in three respondents said that a politician’s private life is a concern at the ballot box—a large enough minority to sway almost any election outcome.

Concern was lowest among Quebecers: only 22 per cent said that they might vote against a sexually indiscreet political candidate. Atlantic Canada was most likely to express reluctance to vote for someone with a checkered personal record. St. Andrews, N.B., telephone lineman James

King, 36, said that he was dismayed when he learned that U.S. president John Kennedy, for one, had extramarital liaisons. Said King: “He made a judgment call when he slept with those people, and it was the wrong call. How many other calls did he make that were wrong?” Respondents 55 and older were most likely to say that a politician’s sex life would affect their voting decisions

negatively. Remarked Albertena Phillipo, a widow living in Westmount, N.S., near Sydney: “The affair shouldn’t affect his political performance, but I wouldn’t think highly of a man who runs around on his wife.” The age group least concerned is 40 to 44—a group who also reported a significantly higher number of sexual affairs of their own. □