While we eagerly await Jack MacLaren‘s emergence from the chrysalis of mandatory sensitivity training, it’s heartening to see the embattled Tory MPP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills-Bedrock still has at least one loyal supporter.
“As someone who has spent many hours working, on a volunteer basis, alongside MPP Jack MacLaren, I find the image your newspaper seeks to paint of him deeply disappointing and shockingly one-sided,” read an April 29 letter to the Ottawa Petfinder.
“I know Mr. MacLaren to be a hardworking and idealistic MPP, not the slouch described by Randall Denley. While I have never heard him speak at any of the Men’s Only Nights at the Carp Fair, I have observed him to be invariably courteous and respectful in his interactions with women – he is most certainly not the primitive misogynist David Reevely tries to make him out to be….
“We should be encouraging sincere and principled people like Mr. MacLaren to remain in public life, not hounding them to resign, because of a few isolated and uncharacteristic, mistakes, as the Citizen unfairly appears bent on doing.”
And so say we all! The author of the missive? Not “Sheila from Kanata,” “Scott from Almonte,” or any of the other surname-free Clipart-Canadians who until recently offered glowing testimonials on Jacko’s website, but my old friend Alan Riddell, who knows a thing or two about landing on the Tory shitlist.
The human rights and employment legalist, readers might recall, was the no-hoper federal Conservative candidate against David McGuinty in Ottawa South for the ’04 running of the reptiles.
When he again offered his talents for the next campaign, party brass declined. Many funny things, after all, had happened on the way to the nomination.
Media reports of Riddell’s old driving record had come back to haunt him, although they were later partially retracted.
According to a release by Riddell, he’d simply “‘blown yellow’ in a breathalyzer test which I passed (while driving legally and under the legal limit)…and had my license administratively suspended for a few days after neglecting to pay a $110 sticker renewal fine.”
And then there was that ill-advised Halloween jest, in which Riddell pranced around his U of T residence dressed in a Nazi costume. Tories feared there were photos of these hilarious shenanigans. It was merely a “teenage prank,” quoth Riddell. He had been dressed as the loveable Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes.
Despite these excellent explanations, the Tories’ National Candidate Selection Committee vetoed his run for the nomination. Riddell appealed his ouster, and appealed and appealed and appealed.
He also attempted to get an injunction preventing the party from holding a nomination meeting until his appeals were exhausted, though that howler was instantly laughed out of court.
In November ’05, with an election looming, the Tories decided appoint sponsorship scandal martyr Alan Cutler for the job of losing to McGuinty. They informed Riddell that his appeals were toast, and feverish negotiations began to induce him to walk away voluntarily. These did not go smoothly.
After Riddell walked out of one crucial meeting without explanation or even informing his own lawyer he was going, Mike Donison, the party’s executive director, e-mailed PMO bumboy Ray Novak, “He truly is an idiot.”
Finally, an agreement was allegedly cooked up whereby he’d step aside voluntarily, and they’d cover his campaign expenses so far, which Riddell put at $50,000. Throw in arbitration for Riddell’s legal costs, and let’s keep it all quiet.
Alas, Riddell was soon blabbing to the media about his payoff, much to the chagrin of party apparatchiks, including President Steve, who publicly denied any such arrangement.
Four days after the election, Riddell sued to have the court declare his deal with the Tories binding.
In the suit, an affidavit by Donison claimed several party poobahs described Riddell as a “loose cannon…a political liability…damaged goods…a person who has embarrassed himself and the party.”
“There were particular concerns,” Donison continued, “about his honesty and even his stability.”
The imbroglio was eventually settled out of court, and Riddell abandoned libel actions against numerous commentators on his case including the, er, Ottawa Petfinder.
With friends like these, Jack will assuredly find himself restored in no time to his former glory, once again offering his sincere, principled brand of cunnilingus-related comedy at Queen’s Park.