So back in 1997 Jack Layton was found in a â€œmassageâ€ parlour according to Toronto Sun crime reporter Sam Pazzano. Pazzano doesnâ€™t have a national profile but according to many reporters last night on Twitter, he has an excellent reputation as a â€œjust the factsâ€ reporter so I tend to believe the story. While Jack dismisses the story as smear, Olivia Chow also confirmed it in her statement.
The former Asian crime unit officer, who requested anonymity, details a prior police raid on the "premise currently ID as a bawdy house" looking for underage Asian hookers and a subsequent follow-up visit to the two-storey brick storefront on Jan. 9.
At first the policemen didn’t realize they were interviewing one of the best-known Toronto politicians who was married to Chow, also a Metro councillor and now the incumbent NDP MP for Trinity-Spadina.
The officer’s notebook indicates he asked the suspected john: "Did you receive any sexual services?"
He replied: "No sir, I was just getting a shiatsu."
The cop: "Why did you have all your clothes off?"
The suspected john: No answer.
The cop: "Are you aware that there were sex acts being done here?"
The suspected john: "No sir."
The woman, who was from mainland China, denied masturbating the suspected john but when the question was repeated became nervous and replied, "I don’t know I only come to work today," the cop’s notes show.
His notes also claim he saw the "female dump wet Kleenex into garbage."
In the interview with the Sun, the officer said: "I asked him for his wallet and I looked at his name and I looked at the last name and it looked familiar.
He’s registered as ‘John’ and I thought he’s a ‘john.’"
Layton’s Christian name is John.
"I explained to him this was a bawdy house and then I asked him the silliest question, ‘Are you any relation to the councillor, Jack Layton?’ and … he had that defeated look on his face and he said, ‘We are one in the same,’"
the ex-cop said.
The former officer said Layton, seemed quiet and mellow and denied that he knew it was a suspected bawdy house.
The police had to decide what to do with the controversial councillor.
"To have arrested him and charged him would have served our egos a lot more. Layton was a thorn in the side of the police, siding with the anti-poverty movement in ’96 or ’97 … Jack was anti-police," the ex-cop said.
"We looked at it and thought do we take advantage of this, or do we look at this like (he’s) any other person, put it away and we hope this thing dies a slow death."
In the end, they came to the conclusion they shouldn’t charge him.
The response has been typical. The Tories and Liberals are trying to spin it one way. Tammy Robert (who is running Darren Hillâ€™s campaign wrote this on Twitter) and she has a point if indeed it was a massage parlour where sexual services were known to happen.
Layton said in a press scrum moments ago he didnâ€™t know that the massage clinic had a notorious reputation but a quick Google Street View search of the placeâ€¦
Itâ€™s the small brick place with the red sign. It appears it has a dentist office on the bottom floor and a massage parlour upstairs. Itâ€™s not a place I got but at the same time I hate to be hugged or even touched by strangers. I have worked in a place that gave out massages one Christmas and I politely didnâ€™t accept so I am not the one to ask. Yet it is advertising as a legitimate massage parlour. I may be naive but I do know a little about prostitution.
My place of employment runs a John School where first time offenders have the option of facing the courts or taking responsibility for the crime, paying $100 to get their cars un-impounded and another $400 to take the school. They have a limited amount of time to attend John School and itâ€™s not the most pleasant way to spend a Saturday.
I sat in on one in 2010. Despite being a spectator and not one of the guys who had committed a crime, I openly wept for most of the afternoon after listening to stories of it ruining one manâ€™s life, listening to the tales of a former sex worker and perhaps worse of all, listening to a family who lost their honour student daughter to a pimp â€œshe fell in love withâ€ and was later founded murdered and pregnant at the side of a railway tracks.
While the registering johnâ€™s is not part of my job responsibility, I registered every john in the city for most of 2009 when staff were out with an injury and another on sick leave. I sat there with a lot of johns, their wives, and occasionally a mother and listened to their stories, admissions of guilt and proclamations of innocent and of being set up. They would proclaim their innocence, their wives would back it up and then later I found out that they were lying. Others I truly believe were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were overwhelmed by naivetÃ© or just stupidity.
Now is that Jack? I donâ€™t know. Only he knows if he is telling the truth and whether or not he thought the massage parlour was legit or if it was a rub and tug. Itâ€™s why I donâ€™t put a lot of stock in Olivia Chowâ€™s statement. The only two people who know for sure are Jack Layton and the women giving him a massage.
A lot of people say that Layton should have known what he was up to but itâ€™s not that easy. A co-worker of mine who has grown up in the city for years and knows Saskatoon better than the vast majority of us was shocked when I told him that there was two massage parlours in Mayfair and there had been for years. While several Conservative bloggers have shown the location on their websites and said, â€œhow can you not knowâ€, I look at the large sign out in front and can accept someone thinking there was some legitimacy. I know Layton was a city councillor but I have had several conversations with Saskatoon politicians about this or that and their response was â€œreally? You are not serious?â€ Even I was caught off guard a couple of years ago when someone I knew was running a brothel on my block within a stones throw of my house.
Now as for the damp Kleenex, as grimy as that is, could it not be damp from massage oil? A quick read of David Simonâ€™s Homicide shows talks of a culture of lying the police in many neighbourhoods. If the place was known for employing underage prostitutesâ€¦ well you can understand why the masseuse would not want to talk to police. Itâ€™s frustrating for everyone, including Layton because she could have put an end to the speculation but chose not toâ€¦ as often happens in situations like that.
There has been a line of thought out there that said, â€œhow could Jack have not known it was under police investigation?â€ to which the common sense answer is? If he knew, why would have gone there and also even from the police notes, he was not on great terms with the Toronto Police. My experience with the Saskatoon Police is that they donâ€™t arrest people for solicitation lightly. I know there is this idea that Layton got off lightly but the police notes said, they had reason to not like him but chose to deal with it like they would anyone else.
Now for those that say that it should be legalised. Maybe you missed the part where it said it was known (by police) for employing underage girls. Also you canâ€™t underestimate the role that brothels (which is what it is defined as by those who want it legalized since I am pretty sure massage therapy isnâ€™t illegal in Toronto) play in human trafficking. I just was in a workshop with the former head of the Toronto police departmentâ€™s unit that was responsible crimes against sex trade workers and she was talking about the Ukrainian mobâ€™s role in human trafficking and smuggling using brothels and massage parlours and as the report says, the Triads and other forms of organized crime play a role as well.
In Saskatoon I just glanced at 20 files of women who have self-identified themselves as working the streets. 19 of them have significant mental health or acquired brain injuries. All 20 of them were homeless. Public health says that all of them have a sexually transmitted disease but for a couple of dollars more will have bareback sex. I know street prostitution is different then the sex that happens in brothels. Itâ€™s hard to argue what Heidi Fleiss does victimizes women but as they have found in Las Vegas is that while legalizing prostitution create a high end market, there is still a lot of street level prostitution that continues to be illegal because men are attracted to the thrill of it and sadly, women like the ones that I describe will drive down the price of themselves. I have always wondered why men drive around and around and itâ€™s not because they are looking for Julia Roberts, they are looking for a better deal.
Lastly, for those on who are calling for the legalization of prostitution, Wendy has been followed home several times by men cruising 33rd Street as she leaves Safeway at night. Itâ€™s only 2 blocks and is too dangerous to walk for her now. Cars circle all night long some nights (until someone occasionally shoots them with a paint ball gun) in part because of the cities tolerance for the rub and tugs in the neighbourhood which turns Mayfair into a kind of an unofficial red light district.
So letâ€™s take a breath and not go to extremes on either side. Personally in the end I think Jack Layton made a naive mistake. If it comes out later he was lying to us, it will end his career forever but for now, Iâ€™ll call it as I see it.
As for itâ€™s release, Jonathan Kay said that two years ago the story was offered to him by a Liberal fixer. Itâ€™s sleaze politics at itâ€™s worse but letâ€™s be honest. Itâ€™s the last weekend of the campaign. A weekend known for sleeze (see Iran Contra allegations against Bush in 1992 and the drunk driving allegations that came out against W. in 2000).