Today, at 6:30pm Mountain time, Sun TV ran a story that, in 1996, Jack Layton was in a massage parlour when it was raided by the Toronto Police Service.  Jack Layton was found, naked, in a room as the massage therapist was leaving the room with a wet tissue of some kind in her hand.

The police officer interviewed Layton and the massage therapist.  Layton explained he was there for a Shiatsu, but didn’t explain why he was naked.  The therapist denied any sexual acts had taken place, as did Layton.

As the police officer had no evidence to go on other than what I’ve just described, he cautioned Layton that the massage studio was known to police to be a place of money laundering, asian gangs, a bawdy house, and also believed to be used for extortion – sessions would be videotaped and used as blackmail.

With that, Layton “paled”, and then the police office let Layton go.  Olivia Chow, Layton’s wife claims to have known about the appointment, known where Layton had been, and also knew about the incident afterwards.

I have no reason to dispute Chow’s statement.

The news story raises some questions; and I find Layton’s explanation … curious.  First, anybody at all in a situation like the one described here would claim, “I just came for a massage.”  That’s the usual response, you’d think.

That Layton didn’t answer as to why he was naked (and uncovered) as the therapist was leaving the room is also interesting.  I have had a legitimate massage, and I know full well that the massage therapist does not enter the room until AFTER you have covered yourself with towels, lifts the towel so she cannot see you when you turn over, never uncovers you to the point of nude exposure, and fully covers you again with towels before she leaves the room; and you do NOT get up from the table until after she has left.

All that is what it is.  Layton was not charged, the incident was left alone, and Layton moved on, probably wanting to put the incident behind him.

Until tonight, when Sun News Network dug the story up when following up from an anonymous tip.  They got copies of the police officer’s notes, fact-checked the story, and were very careful to report that charges were never laid and presented the evidence to the viewer as is.

Okay, so Sun was professional in their journalistic research.  That, however, is where it ends.

Why would Sun News bother running this story?  It’s obviously embarrassing to Jack Layton, that goes beyond saying.  Layton’s claiming it’s a smear.

He’s right.

This story adds nothing to the current election campaign, other than to briefly throw Jack Layton off his message while he deals with it.  On Twitter, someone said to me that Layton and the NDP claim to be defenders of women and women’s issues, and this goes to show Jack Layton for who he really is.  Frankly, the very fact that the NDP believe that women need “defending” and “special status” in and of itself shows their extreme disrespect for women.  I don’t need some news reporters telling me about a bad decision Layton made — and make no mistake, Layton made a terrible decision — 16 years ago to raise that point.

Running this story was sleazy journalism.  It was designed to embarrass and shame Layton.  He has enough to be embarrassed and ashamed of just by being a socialist — this story adds nothing, nor does anybody any favours.  It certainly hasn’t done Sun News any favours in my mind.

Sun News Network, and David Akin: Shame on you.  I thought you would be better than this.  I’m disappointed to find out that I was wrong.