About Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny
Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny, PC, OC, CD, VM, ED (September 12, 1917 – March 20, 2004) was a Canadian soldier, author, politician, and academic. He is best known for his involvement in the Munsinger Affair.
Life and career
Born in Quebec City, Quebec, the son of Albert Sévigny, the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons in 1916, he graduated from Université Laval and Columbia University. He briefly attempted to pursue a career in acting, even being given a screen test by MGM in 1935, but instead returned to Canada to work in real estate, construction and in the import-export business. He also wrote fiction for The Saturday Evening Post under the pen name Peter Maple.
Sévigny served in the Canadian Army during World War II, and lost a leg in the Battle of the Rhineland. He was awarded the Virtuti Militari, Poland's highest military decoration, for his involvement in the battle at Hill 262. Along with his Polish comrades of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, he denied access to Panzer divisions trying to break out of the Falaise pocket in August 1944. The action resulted in the encirclement and capture of 50,000 German troops. He also received France's Croix de Guerre and Belgium's Croix de Guerre. After the war he wrote a book Face à l’ennemi about his experiences. It won the Prix Ferrières de l’Académie française in 1948. In 1965, he wrote his second book, This Game of Politics (McClelland and Stewart).
He was elected to the House of Commons in the 1958 election, representing the electoral district of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, and served as Associate Defence Minister in the Progressive Conservative government of John Diefenbaker. He was reelected in the 1962 election, but was defeated in the 1963 vote.
At the height of the Cold War between the Americans and Russians, and acting on information provided by American sources, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) warned Justice Minister Davie Fulton that Gerda Munsinger, an alleged prostitute and a possible spy, was having a sexual relationship with a cabinet minister. This was eventually revealed to be Sévigny, when investigators realized that a mysterious thumping sound on their surveillance tapes was an artificial limb dropping to the floor.
A Royal Commission, chaired by Justice Wishart Spence, was called by the government of Lester Pearson into the Munsinger Affair. The inquiry chastised Sévigny for his behavior and criticized Diefenbaker for leniency towards his Ministers, but absolved Sévigny of any guilt relating to any breach of security. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsinger_Affair
In 1967, he started teaching business administration at Concordia University, eventually becoming executive-in-residence in 1982. He retired in 1995, but returned two years later as a visiting assistant professor. In 1978, Sévigny and Camil Samson founded the short-lived political party Les Démocrates in Quebec.
Sévigny was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1994.
He died in Montreal in 2004.