Virgins in the whore house – updated

Remember the Ottawa Press Gallery’s rending of garments over the “despicable” violation of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’s privacy when Vikileaks30 revealed seamy details from the public record of his divorce proceedings—details that called into question the minister’s personal adherence to the family values he used to denigrate gay Canadians and oppose their exercise of equal rights under the law?

The view that embarrassing details from a cabinet minister’s private life are off-limits, even when they conflict with his sanctimonious public pronouncements, has suddenly acquired unanimous support among Canada’s major media organizations. Why, suppressing such details is practically a sacred duty.

Parliamentary reporters from Sun Media and the Ottawa Citizen were particularly vociferous in their denunciation of those, including Contrarian, who criticized the gallery’s conspiracy of quiescence  around Toews’s hypocrisy.

Now check out the list of intervenors who successfully appealed against a sweeping publication ban this year in divorce proceedings brought by the wife of David Russell Williams, the former Canadian Forces colonel convicted of murder and rape.

I think the media were right to appeal that ban, and three justices of the Ontario Court of Appeal think so too. For the same reason, the press gallery were wrong to play down or ignore public evidence of Toews’s hypocrisy, and I take that journalistic failure as a sign that the Harper government’s bullying approach to the media has achieved some success.

[Update:] Anticipating the response of my friends in the press gallery, I will add that, of course I am not analogizing the hon. minister to a notorious sex murderer. The publication ban they successfully opposed here was not about Williams or sought by him. It was sought by his estranged wife, who must be presumed an innocent party. It covered:

  • Her name, address, and contact information;
  • Her photograph or likeness in any report of the divorce proceeding;
  • The name, address, or contact coordinates of her employer in any report of the divorce proceedings;
  • Her social insurance number, date and place of birth, and address; and
  • Her assets and liabilities, except those transferred to her from Williams after February 2010.

As I said, they were right to seek to overturn this ban. They were wrong to treat a family-values thumping, gay-hating Harper cabinet minister with kid gloves.

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