Maxime Bernier isn't Pierre Sevigny
Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier is not the Hon. Pierre Sevigny.
For those who don’t recall such details, Mr. Pierre Sevigny was a cabinet minister in the government of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Mr. Sevigny (Assoc. Minister of National Defence) had been linked to East German-born Gerda Munsinger, who Liberal Transport Minister Lucien Cardin claimed (March 1966) was a prostitue and Soviet spy. Mrs. Munsinger was also friendly with former Tory Cabinet Minister George Hees.
Given the fear that Ms. Munsinger, as an alleged spy, had drained at least two cabinet ministers of their military secrets, a public inquiry was called for. The U.K. Profumo Affair of 1963 was fresh in the public’s mind, and the concern was quite real. Or at least tantilizing enough to appear real.
In his autobiography, Both My Houses, Father Sean O’Sulivan told my father a wonderful story about Mr. Diefenbaker’s recollection of the Munsinger scandal:
Dief could also put on quite a show repeating what he claimed were actual quotes from RCMP tapes of Gerda Munsinger’s dalliances with Hees and Sevigny. As he listened to the Sevigny portion, Dief claimed, he had to ask the RCMP what all the thumping was. He’d playact his own questions and repeat the RCMP answer in his own words: “What’s all this damned banging and thumping? It was his leg, his wooden leg.” As for Hees, in Dief’s account there was little lovemaking, just endless narcissism as Hees kept asking her: “Have you ever seen such a body like mine? Have you ever seen such a physique? How old do you think I am?” I always doubted that the stories were true, but it certainly meant that any Hees-Diefenbaker alliance was unlikely.
The Munsinger Affair had the requisite elements for it to be a scandal: multiple sexual partners, Defence cabinet post, military spy, Montreal nightclubs, prostitution, etc.
What went on in the House of Commons yesterday had none of those essential elements. It is quite a sexist notion to believe that a woman can’t transcend from a bad crowd to a good one, as Minister Bernier’s ex-girlfriend did when she left the life of dating bikers to wind up at Rideau Hall on the arm of a cabinet minister.
The Opposition Parties are hoping this story will grow to replicate the Munsinger scandal, but that’s nothing more than wishful thinking. None of the key ingredients exist.
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