I’d wager that less than 20% of Canadians even know Laureen Harper’s name, let alone think she’s a lesbian. It’s one of the huge contrasts between American and Canadian politics… If a considerable rumour started that Michelle Obama had secretly moved out of the White House to shack up with a lady, it would be on the cover of everything… But in Canada, where Laureen Harper is indeed the wife of our Prime Minister, it barely scratches the media surface (not even trashy gossip fare). For some time there’s been rumours that Laureen had moved out over a year ago, taking residence at the Chateau Laurier to shack up with a female mountie. Considering there’s an election going on, where Laureen’s conservative husband is the frontrunner (and not exactly a friend of queer people), you’d think people would jump all over this.
Toronto Life finally and subtly became the first print publication to actually reference the rumour in a piece that focuses on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s wife Renata and how little we know about her. It reads:
So is the media discreet, or merely cowardly? You be the judge: a rumour has been circulating for months now about the infidelity of a high-level political wife in Ottawa, possibly involving a female RCMP officer. And yet not a whiff has made it into print (until now). It’s the kind of rumour tabloids and talk shows love in the U.S., Britain and France, and for good reason: a politician’s home life speaks to his character.
In Canada, deference to authority is embedded in our political DNA. We’ve never fought a war of independence, guillotined a king and queen or rammed a Magna Carta down the throat of a recalcitrant monarch. That doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about the personal lives of politicians. A literal bedfellow is a confidante, someone with a potential influence on public policy.
Whether the article is referencing Laureen is not 100% clear (though c’mon), it brings up an excellent question: Is the media scared of breaking this story, or respecting privacy? Outing folks in politics has been a huge no-no in the mainstream media, and not just in Canada: Kirby Dick’s “Outrage” made that ridiculously clear with reference to the United States. That movie full fledged proved Charlie Crist was a homo and somehow people still totally ignored it. But this is the wife of a country’s leader who is a huge proponent of family values, and as that Toronto Life quote notes, the rumour hasn’t officially made print anywhere (Crist’s “alleged” homo-ness at least made some waves in the gay press).
It’s not like the lives of our politicians wives have never become tabloid topics (see Margaret Trudeau), and as unenthusiastic about our politicians’ lives as we are, surely if someone did some research and broke this story in some capacity, it would be huge by Canadian standards. And clearly Harper’s opponents would have reason to get a story like this out: It’s the kind of scandal that would lead the family values folks that provide Harper’s voting contingency backbone to consider a new option. But instead everyone seems to be playing way too nice. In the midst of an election that I’ve wanted so badly not to bore me to tears, y’all might be sitting on the most juicy thing to hit Canadian politics since Margaret smuggled drugs in the prime minister’s luggage and made scantily clad appearances at Studio 54 and no one’s doing anything about it!? That said, I’m sure Harper’s team has gone to crazy-powerful measures to ensure whatever the full truth behind Laureen is never gets out, and I doubt it will anytime soon. They have a lot to lose, and despite the fact that I just rambled on about these rumours for five paragraphs, I get the whole respecting-privacy thing (to a degree, clearly). And maybe it is all simply rumours. But rumour or not, it just blows my mind that in this day and age something like this doesn’t get bigger play. Especially with this photo just begging to be captioned along with it: