(This story is one of a series entitled “One Person’s Journey” telling how people from all walks of life, including a few rogues and rebels, have left their marks upon the world. To see a list of others featured in the series, click here.)
As political sex scandals go, it seemed like pretty tame stuff at first. When a junior government stenographer named Vivian MacMillan accused Alberta premier John E. Brownlee of sexual misconduct, the province’s newspapers devoted less coverage to the civil lawsuit than they did to a juicy wife-swapping suit involving Brownlee’s public works minister, O.L. (Tony) McPherson. But when the stenographer’s charges stuck and the 50-year-old premier had to publicly defend himself in court, the newspapers broke out the big black headlines that they normally reserve for coverage of a world war. It was cheap entertainment for the Depression-battered masses, and they devoured it with prurient relish.