It comes as no surprise to veteran Frank readers to learn that Justin Trudeau is urging a pardon for a man deemed a dangerous sex offender for being gay in the Sixties.
A travesty of justice, yes, but remember it was around that time the then-RCMP security service became paranoid about Pierre Trudeau’s friendship with “queer” individuals.
Feckless gumshoes during that era feared the PM’s obvious platonic relationships might provide fodder for the KGB to blackmail not only Trudeau but also certain members of his colourful cabinet whose behaviour raised eyebrows.
Names that come to mind are accident-prone erratic driver Jean Marchand and Francis Fox, who allegedly arranged an abortion for an acquaintance.
The main concern for the horsemen was Trudeau’s habit of taking dubious friends aboard the Jetstar he used to travel the land.
In those days the PM’s air travel was not controlled by the armed forces but was instead called an “executive flight,” therefore no prying eyes.
However, at least one Jetstar arrival at Uplands resulted in a not-so-veiled threat to a CTV cameraman at the time that if he filmed the next passenger to walk off the aircraft he would never be allowed to work on the Hill again.
The cameraman was Rolly Desmarais and the threat came from none other than Romeo LeBlanc, Trudeau’s press secretary…future cabinet minister and later, Governor-General.
As award-winning Rolly told his pals at CJOH, the person who came off the plane with Trudeau was a very tall guy with an effeminate walk and a long scarf flowing in the breeze, a la Isadora Duncan.
Desmarais kept his job, won international awards and never said a word publicly, which is presumably why other newsmen of the day kept their jobs.
From Confederation in 1887, homosexuality was punishable by up to 14 years in prison. In 1969, the Trudeau government amended the law by decriminalizing acts of sodomy between consenting adults of at least 21 years of age.
Rolly Desmarais is 110.