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The Toronto Sun, while endorsing the verdict — “[Regan] has been found not guilty by a jury of his peers of any criminal wrongdoing and that is good enough for us” — was quick to add: “But we also do not intend to abandon all common sense.…Many people also know that in both provincial and federal politics, Regan had a reputation as someone women were well advised not to be alone with in a room.” In the editorial, The Sun, which had been generally sympathetic to Regan in its trial coverage, added: “We believe that when more than twenty women — many of whom were teenagers at the time — all come forward with stories of inappropriate conduct by one man — a powerful figure in Canadian politics to boot — then that is something the public should note.”An Edmonton Journal editorial went even further: “It is more than reasonable to conclude,” it argued, “that Gerald Regan reached the high office of Canadian premier despite a lifetime of disgusting behaviour toward many young girls and women.”” Ultimately, what is important about the case of Gerald Regan — and what remains important to this day — is that it marked a psychological turning point.Twenty years ago tomorrow (December 18, 1998), we had our own not/almost/actually-yes Nova Scotia #Me Too moment in the case of the Queen versus Gerald Augustine Regan.I spent close to five years covering that case while researching a nonfiction book about the avalanche of remarkably similar sexual assault allegations made by close to three dozen girls and women concerning incidents that had happened to them over the course of 40 years before, during and after the eight years Gerald Regan spent as Nova Scotia’s 19an attempt to weave the memories of those women’s encounters with a biographical account of Regan’s private life and public career.We knew Gerald Regan had been found not guilty of rape and attempted rape in a court of law, but we also knew we didn’t have to accept that as the final word, that we could choose to believe the women, we could choose common sense.And it was those women, standing up for other women, saying #Me Too, who made that possible.In the light of all that has happened in the last few years, I am often asked — and ask myself — about the significance now of that 20-year-old trial? Perhaps surprisingly — for the times and for Nova Scotia in particular — the Mounties assigned to the file took the allegations, which had been floating in the political ether in Nova Scotia for at least 20 years, seriously, and they doggedly pursued them. Many had long since come to terms with their own encounters with Regan and moved on.magazine and the CBC first broke the story about the RCMP’s investigation in late October 1993, Regan himself went on national television to denounce the allegations as “nonsense.” His airy dismissal — and what became ongoing public attacks on the women and their allegations by Regan, as well as his high-powered, higher-priced Toronto lawyer, Eddie Greenspan — ultimately became Regan’s undoing. But they wanted the world to know the allegations weren’t nonsense, and that the women who’d complained were telling the truth and deserved to be believed.
For significant starters, the RCMP and the prosecutors had taken the women’s allegations of sexual misconduct by a powerful Nova Scotia politician seriously and followed the evidence where it led — to charges and to a trial.Although details of their allegations had been the subject to a publication ban while the trial played out in the courtroom, that all changed the moment the jury was sequestered and the ban expired.What happened after that was that almost no one anywhere accepted the courtroom verdict as the correct — or final — judgement on the conduct of Gerald Regan.Not guilty, by the divine right of kings and premiers.”While the jury was deliberating, Rick Howe, the host of CJCH Radio’s open line program, had asked his listeners to call with their predictions on the outcome.“The phones lit up and they didn’t stop for two hours,” Howe recalled later.