Frank felicitations to elder statesman and longtime subscriber Bill Graham, who will next month receive the prestigious centennial 2017 Vimy Award from the braunnosing Conference of Defence Associations Institute (Franks passim), for his “outstanding contributions towards the security and defence of Canada and the preservation of our democratic values.”
The CDAI, that “non-partisan” clutch of military old boys, consistently plumps for fatter military budgets and reliably hypes procurement boondoggles like the F-35, long after lesser shills succumb to attacks of shame and/or sticker shock. The enrichment of defence contractors and lobbyists, themselves military old boys, is merely a happy side effect.
The Vimy, doled out at the CDAI’s annual $300-a-plate beanfest at the Canadian War Museum, is typically bestowed on chiefs of defence staff (Jon Vance, Rick Hiller, Ray Henault, John de Chastelain), pet military historians (Jack Granatstein, David Bercuson) and assorted political undead (step forward, Joe Clark, John Fraser, Barney Danson and Hugh Segal).
In short, the Vimy’s long been an unreconstructed white-boy sausage party, making few concessions to the modish cult of diversity (former GG Adrienne Clarkson, gonged in 2010, remains the only woman ever so honoured by the CDAI).
All of which makes Mild Bill’s elevation so historic, the CDAI’s first LGBTQ honoree!
His Vimy Award bio, perhaps sensitive to accusations of tokenism, makes no mention of Graham’s ambidexterity, preferring to simply recap his impressive career as a parliamentarian and cabinet minster:
“After positions of significant leadership on the behalf of Canada with the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas, he was [that’s enough filler!–ed.)
No mention, alas, of just how groundbreaking Bill’s 2002 appointment to cabinet was, in spite of the sordid Lawrence Metherel affair (Frank 205)
The former male prostitute, readers of a certain age may recall, claimed to have had a sexual relationship with the Rosedale MP, dating back to 1980 and for years allegedly provided him with regular support payments of “up to $1,500 a month.”
“I met Bill in Montreal when I was 15 years old,” Metherel told Frank in a phone interview from his home in Costa Rica.
After Graham stopped sending cheques, Metherel took his story to Maclone’s, Le Journal de Montreal and the Globe and Mail.
Graham told the Globe that he knew Metherel, but refused to discuss their relationship. He also acknowledged a fondness for pillow biting going back 15 years. He allowed that he might have some moral responsibility, as a public office holder, to come out, but said he’d never hidden his gay relationships from his family or his closest colleagues, and wife Cathy had accepted them. He steadfastly denied Metherel’s claim to have been underage when their romance began.
The Globe ended up spiking the story because of Metherel’s sketchy background, and the poofessional courtesy of cakeboy-in-chief Bill Thorsell, who balked at outing the honourable member.
Déjà vu all over again in 2002, when Jean Crouton appointed Graham as minister of foreign affairs. How, some wondered, had Bill cleared the background check? Blackmail, after all, wasn’t just a possibility, but a biographical fact.
A second Globe story was duly assigned to Jan Wong, then postponed, then spiked, then replaced entirely with an interview fluffer by Graham chum Sandra Martin, the Globe‘s books editor at the time. Martin lobbed softballs at the minister, whilst scrupulously skirting the topic of his shirt-lifting extracurriculars.
In his memoir, The Call of the World, released last year, Bill alluded to the contretemps in the context of his ministerial promotion:
“At eight o’clock that night, when I reported back to Percy Downe, he put Mitchell Sharp and David Zussman on the line. Sharp, I knew, was a distinguished former senior civil servant and Cabinet minister who had been lured out of retirement to serve as the prime minister’s dollar-a-year adviser. Zussman was a long-time consultant to Chrétien on governance issues.
“‘Would you mind telling me what’s going on?'” I asked.
“‘No, I can’t tell you, but it’s terrific. I’m very happy for you,'” Mitchell said, and then became more businesslike. “‘Bill, we have to put you through a bit of an ‘examination.’ Have you ever taken a bribe?'” “‘No.'”
“‘Any problems with your election financing?'” “‘No, no issues. There’s no corruption in the riding association. We’re completely open about everything.'”
“Any possibility of an embarrassment?”
“I raised the fact that an aspect of my private life had been featured in Frank, the muckraking magazine, and that Cathy was perfectly aware of it and supportive. So, it turned out, were they, and it was never an issue for the prime minister.”
And the rest is (redacted) history, finally acknowledged by this long-overdue honour from the CDAI. Would boy-crazy young Rusty Beard ever have become foreign affairs minister, had our pioneering Sister Bill not first blazed the trail?