“No Whore like an Old Whore”


The highly-evocative phrase used by Brian Mulroney during the 1984 election in discussion Liberal patronage.

Mulroney used the phrase in what he believed was an off-record conversation with journalist on his campaign plane. He was describing, seemingly half-affectionately, veteran Liberal MP Bryce Mackasey, who had been appointed Ambassador to Portugal by the outgoing Liberal government.

Mackasey, for more than two decades had been one of Canada’s most colourful, and controversial, politicians. A rough-hewn, working class Liberal from Montreal’s hardscrabble Verdun neighbourhood, Mackasey was prone to highly emotional outburst and, not unlike Mulroney himself, had a well-earned reputation for Irish blarney. By 1984 however, the public had grown weary of the volatile and highly partisan Mackasey. Moreover, the Portuguese chancellery was the second major patronage plum to come his way; during a brief period out of politics in the late 1970s, Pierre Trudeau had appointed him Chairman of then-state-owned Air Canada. As such, Mackasey was a ready personification of what had become highly pungent Liberal entitlement and patronage after more than two decades (broken only by the Joe Clark interregnum) in office.

Mulroney’s un-politically-correct description caused him some mild discomfort in the early days of the campaign, but meshed nicely with his overall broadside against Liberal pork throughout the campaign, culminating in his knock-out “You had an option, sir” punch of John Turner1 in the Leaders’ Debate. Mulroney was referencing John Turner standing by his predecessor Pierre Trudeau orgy of appointments as he left office. Once elected, Mulroney revoked Mackasey’s appointment as he did those of a number of other Trudeau loyalists.

Like many campaign bons mots, “there’s no whore…” came back to haunt Mulroney, first during his own government’s patronage contretemps and, more poetically, some twenty years later, when Mulroney’s (post-prime ministerial) receipt of brown envelopes stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars from German arms merchant Karlheiz Schreiber was revealed.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

References

  1. John Turner: 'I had no option'. Jul 25, 1984. CBC Digital Archives.

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