Between 1958 and 1961 Pierre SÉVIGNY
, John DIEFENBAKER's
associate minister of national defence, had an affair with Gerda Munsinger, a German immigrant. Acting on information from American sources, the RCMP warned Justice Minister Davie FULTON
that Munsinger was a prostitute and a security risk. Fulton told Diefenbaker, who reprimanded Sévigny. Munsinger returned to Germany while Sévigny remained in the Cabinet. The affair meant nothing to anyone except the principals until Liberal Justice Minister Lucien Cardin, angered by Conservative taunts about security leaks, raised Munsinger's name 4 March 1966 in the Commons. The press revelled in Canada's first major parliamentary sex scandal. A royal commission criticized Diefenbaker's leniency but found no security breach.
Gerda Munsinger, actor
Gerda Munsinger on television, March 1966 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada).