A made-for-TV film about the life and death of Jack Layton that airs on CBC this weekend will not show the former NDP leader getting hand relief from a masseuse.
In Jack, which airs March 10 at 8 p.m., Layton is played by Rick Roberts, perhaps best known for his role on Republic of Doyle, while Chow is played CBC Radio’s Sook-Yin Lee, host of Definitely Not the Opera. Layton died in 2011 after raising his party’s fortunes to a historic high, when the NDP became the Official Opposition and supplanted the Liberals as the main rivals to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
“I wanted Jack’s story to inspire more people to get involved and try to make the world a better place,” Chow told the Toronto Star.
The film, co-produced by Pier 21 Films and Eagle Vision Inc., will focus heavily on the 2011 campaign, when Layton campaigned aggressively despite failing health and ushered in an “orange crush” of new NDP MPs. One thing that will not be part of Jack, however, is the scandal that nearly derailed his rise to leader of the opposition. In the last days on the hustings, Sun News broke a story about Layton’s 1996 visit to a massage parlour that police were investigating as a bawdy house. Layton and Chow were both Metro Toronto councillors, and Layton’s trip to a suspected handjob palace in Toronto’s Chinatown could have been very unfortunate for both their careers.
From the original report:
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.”
Layton wasn’t charged and the allegations didn’t end up hurting the NDP in 2011 anyway. Although Layton and Chow called the story a “smear campaign,” they didn’t deny that Layton had visited the massage parlour and didn’t refute any of the details.
When asked whether the massage parlour would appear in the CBC movie, a producer for the film told me it didn’t make the cut.
“There is nothing in the film about the massage parlour,” said Melissa Williamson of Pier 21 Films over the phone from Toronto. “It really didn’t fit into the narrative at all, so we shied away from that altogether.”
Williamson says that Jack is not intended to be a political movie, but more of a love story about Layton and Chow. It seems the alleged handjob is doomed never to make it into an official Layton biography, but rest assured that it endures in all my NDP fan fiction.
image: Matt Jiggins/Flickr