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Layton defends trip to massage parlour

BURNABY, B.C. -- Jack Layton did his best not to appear distracted Saturday by allegations that he was questioned by police at a massage parlour suspected of providing sexual services 15 years ago.

He emphatically denied he'd done anything wrong when visiting the establishment late one evening following a gym work out.

Jack Layton talks with reporters during a campaign stop  in Burnaby, B.C., Saturday.

ANDREW VAUGHAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Jack Layton talks with reporters during a campaign stop in Burnaby, B.C., Saturday.

"There was no wrongdoing at all," Layton told a news conference in this Vancouver suburb, the second straight day he faced questions about published and broadcast reports in the Sun Media chain.

"I went for a massage at a community clinic, the police advised that it wasn't the greatest place to be, and I left and I never went back."

Layton has been assuring voters he would run a responsible, scandal-free government and now is fending off what he termed a "smear campaign."

The NDP leader was unable to offer proof his opponents were behind the report, even though many former Conservatives have connections with the fledgling network.

"I have no idea how it all came about, but I do know this not the kind of politics Canadians appreciate," he said.

"It's innuendo, smear politics. I've seen this kind of thing before."

He said he and the party would consider legal recourse after the election is over.

Conservative spokesman Ryan Sparrow said the party had no idea about the Sun story until it appeared.

Sources said the Tory campaign co-chair, Jenni Byrne, sent out a note Friday warning candidates not to touch the story -- or tweet about it.

The Liberals, who've been subjected to attacks in the Quebecor-owned chain, offered a terse "no comment" on the story after it broke late Friday. Leader Michael Ignatieff declined comment Saturday.

Sun TV reported Friday that Layton was neither arrested nor charged when he was found in the Toronto Chinatown parlour in 1996.

-- Layton's campaign stops today: Montreal, Kingston, Ont.; Oshawa, Ont.; Toronto; Scarborough, Ont.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 1, 2011 A4

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