The secrets of Victoria

Allan Fotheringham April 24 1995

The secrets of Victoria

Allan Fotheringham April 24 1995

The secrets of Victoria



It has to be the water. Victoria, as we know, has the mildest climate in Canada, roses at Christmas and actual palm trees—due to the warming waters of the Japanese current that sweeps down the Inside Passage.

That takes on new meaning, of course, with the current surge of sex scandals that is sweeping squeaky-clean Mikey Harcourt from office, sniggering office jokes enveloping the party that still boasts J. S. Woodsworth and Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles, not one of whom was ever detected at the drugstore magazine stand perusing Playboy.

The languid city of the newly wed and nearly dead hides under its skirts a seething lust for the physical pleasures. Perhaps it has something to do with its fake-English veneer that is designed for the tourists. John Major, as we know, is headed for the Dumpster after too many three-in-a-bed scandals of randy Tory MPs, including a chap who miscued with a plastic bag over his head while in naughty underwear, and the latest embarrassment, “The Bonk of England” deputy boss who was doing it on the boardroom carpet.

Poor Harcourt, who looks like an aging pharmacist, is being done in by loose zippers, just as his philosophical opposite, Major, is.

NDP stalwart Robin Blencoe has been turfed from cabinet and caucus and is on “medical leave” after allegations of unspecified sexual harassment while at the Canada Games in Alberta brought by a toothsome legislative assistant, and allegations by two other women.

Senior members of Harcourt’s staff have had to be severely spanked after distributing sex-rated e-mail, an Internet chain letter aimed at those “who need to get laid within 96 hours.”

This brings us back to the water. Previously, we had thought the celebrated randiness of Victoria legislators—stuck off on that island with ferries always being late—had excluded the saintly socialists. The sinful capitalists, it was always assumed, had a lock on lust.

There was Socred minister Jim Nielsen, father of eight, who was caught pressing his

attentions on a lady not his wife by the outraged husband, a small civil servant. As the aggrieved chap told the press: “I knocked him down. He got up, so I knocked him down again.” Nielsen returned to the legislature with a black eye, his career gone.

There was his cabinet mate, former country-and-westem disc jockey Bob McClelland, who ordered a hooker up to his room and was so bright as to pay her with his Visa card that had his legislative address. When the coppers investigating Top Hat Productions “escort service” came upon the receipt, McClelland wished he was home on the range.

Then there was lawyer Bud Smith, choice of the big Howe Street brokerage money for the Socred leadership. Problem was he had the Princess Di/Prince Charles disease: the belief that cellular phones can’t be tapped. His arrangements with his lady friend in the Victoria press gallery as to who was to bring the

wine and who the cheese to their assignations were taped by a jealous rival and read out on the floor of the legislature. Goodbye Bud.

The Liberals, naturally, drinking that same suspect Victoria tap water, had their own recent soap opera. The farce of then-leader Gordon Wilson and his political paramour Judi Tyabji is too familiar to repeat, leading all the way to the Oprah show and available in book form at your nearest newsstand.

The latest NDP lapse into lasciviousness is, come to think of it, just a repeat of the only previous B.C. government run by the saintly socialists. When they came to power in 1972, a Social Credit MLA and former beauty queen had to request the Empress Hotel management to move her room, such was her insomnia at being kept up all night by the steady tattoo beating on the headboard in the next room occupied by a sexually advantaged NDP cabinet minister.

Dave Barrett’s government’s first scandal came when one of his ministers, Frank Calder, was detected in a car—within a 100-yard view of the premier’s office—overly eager with his female companion. He was in front of a motel, but apparently could not wait. He was apprehended in mid-action by a policeman—because he had parked too close to a fire hydrant.

Such is Victoria. Obviously the tap water. There is something that mothers always tell their daughters: never go to a party on a boat. Meaning that the sense of suspension at sea leads to an abandonment of the usual cautions associated with landlubbers.

So it is with island life. _ B.C. lawmakers, their aides, £ assistants, consultants, i forehead-feelers—all have their mind-sets altered whether they know it or not by their transition to the goofy little ghetto by the water, the Empress full of tourists from Omaha drinking what they think is the Queen’s tea, the bored MLAs after dark taking their secretaries to Oak Bay—beyond the Tweed Curtain—for sherry by the sea.

Do lawmakers at Queen’s Park, in the depths of slogging Toronto, have such temptations? Of course not. Do frigid floggers of reform in Edmonton have such delights before them? Naturally, no. Winnipeg? Where in Winnipeg would one go for a nooner?

Canada, if it were compassionate, would commiserate with the politicians of delightful Victoria, the tiny spot of green that will be forever England and where one can do a knee-trembler in a car in the park in February without any chance of chilblains.

The temptation is simply too much. They should be pitied, not condemned.