Sex and Drugs in the Peg. Is that what PM Justin Trudeau is covering up?
The reporters and pundits had to do quite the soft shoe to excuse Trudeau's boorishness when video of the incident contradicted his initial explanation for how his elbow smashed into her chest. Luckily, the controversy subsided quickly and the press gallery could go back to work--- adoring the Sun King.
And then, last week, damn it, up popped another matter that threatened to blemish the reign of Trudeau II. Its name---Hunter Tootoo.
Hunter Tootoo turned out to be Canada's Fisheries Minister
There was a bit of fanfare when he was appointed in November, 2014. His was a historic appointment, we were told. He was the first aboriginal and the first northerner (he's from Nunavut) to hold the cabinet post. "It is a proud day for Inuit” declared the president of the national Inuit organization. "We survived the long, dark night of the Harper government and we're coming into the dawn of a new day with the Trudeau government," declared Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
But last week Trudeau was treating Tootoo like the Zika virus.
It was all too mysterious, so Justin addressed the press and pundits personally the very next day. The former minister was going for addictions treatment. Ignore the rumours. There's no story. Drop it.
And the press did as their master said, with one small exception.
And that was it. No follow up. Some niggling questions on blogs and posts on news media comments sections, but as far as information, dead silence.
* From the initial flurry of news reports, we gather that Hunter Tootoo was in fine spirits following his attendance at the national Liberal Party convention in Winnipeg last weekend.
Hunter Tootoo resigns as Fisheries minister, leaves Liberal caucus. cbc.ca/1.3609915
4:36 PM - 31 May 2016
* Then there was the day-after CTV newslet about an incident in Winnipeg. What was that all about?
Winnipeg journalists, especially in the alternative press, immediately put their ears to the ground.
The Globe and Mail reported: "Mr. Tootoo, 53, had been drinking heavily at the Liberal convention in Winnipeg, but one friend said, “he was never stumbling, or anything like that”."
* Local reporters soon heard the story and, eventually, began bombarding the Winnipeg police for comment.
Was there "an altercation"? Did a search of one of those involved turn up cocaine? Did the incident involve a woman?
The police finally had to issue a public denial that they were ever called to any incident involving Tootoo.
“The Winnipeg Police Service has no record of any official police contact with this individual,” said Const. Robert Carver, a public information officer with the force. “I cannot be more clear about that — no record.”
* That should have been the end of it, except that seasoned reporters have learned to parse carefully what public officials say. No "record" does not mean no "incident."
Winnipeg police might throw a blotto City Councillor into the drunk tank, but no Member of Parliament is going to be inconvenienced during a party convention in this friendly city. That would be what's known as a career-ending move.
* But even before the city police made their public statement, the story on the street had taken a twist.
This version also spoke of cocaine, but added a young Liberal staffer. Female.
Cherchez la femme.
Had the young lady been offered a toot by Tootoo? Was she telling tales back home? Had somebody started asking questions on Parliament Hill?
Remember how nobody believed Tootoo quit the Liberal caucus of his own accord?
He wouldn't hear their claims of innocence. Out they went.
Step one: act fast to demonstrate you acted fast once you heard.
But as the immortal Yogi Berra said: "It ain't over until it's over."
"On Monday, Leona Aglukkaq, minister responsible for the status of women and one of two women in the 19-member legislature, told the house she, too, had faced verbal abuse and threats from elected officials.
Outside the Chamber, she said the member for Iqakuit centre, Hunter Tootoo, chased her and swore at her after a committee of the whole meeting in March 2005.
Tootoo was not available to confirm those words on Monday. he did apologize two days later in the legislature, saying his remarks were "unacceptable in content and tone."