'The blunderer must continue to prove to himself'

Tom Hawthorn eulogizes the remarkable life of former NDP MP Frank Howard.

Howard gained a reputation as an advocate for penal reform, denouncing the “deplorable conditions” at St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary at Montreal. Few knew his advocacy came from personal experience. The parliamentarian confided his criminal past to party leaders and close friends, but the public remained ignorant until he made a televised confession in 1967.

After receiving an extortion note, which he shared with police, Howard purchased air time on CFTK-TV in Terrace, B.C. He admitted to having spent time in jail, though he refused to offer details of his crimes, which were later revealed by reporters who checked legal records. The admission was big news, in part because of the dramatic circumstance. The Vancouver Sun’s front-page headline read, “MP Frank Howard admits: I served time in penitentiary.”

Mr. Howard’s autobiography is available for purchase here.

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