Last night's edition of Sunday featured an interview with Christine Rankin, who was defending the latest allegations put to her about her personal life. It turns out that Rankin married her current husband 71 days after his previous wife committed suicide, following some years of depression.
The previous wife's family believe that Rankin and her husband were having an affair while he was still with his previous wife. Ranking utterly denies this, but the previous wife also had her suspicions: she left suicide notes both for her husband and Rankin. Whatever was going on between Rankin and the man she is now married to, it seems his previous wife knew there was some affection towards them, and was unhappy with this.
Normally, I don't care at all about the marital lives of public figures. But I have to admit that I'm now uneasy about Christine Rankin. It's not actually Rankin's marriage as such that I feel uncomfortable about, but the fact that her actions may have contributed to the harm of a vulnerable person - and that Rankin may have known this harm could ensue.
Relationships are a tricky business, and outsiders can be quick to judge without really knowing what's going on. I'm not saying that a person who's unhappy in a marriage shouldn't leave, because the person he's married to has a mental illness. But I do think that all people involved in such a situation have an ethical responsibility to try to prevent harm to a vulnerable person. I guess we'll never know whether Rankin tried to carry out this ethical responsibility or not.
Lastly, I found Rankin's rather vitriolic insistence that 'the left' was causing trouble for her a bit strange. She's meeting with criticism from all over the political spectrum at the moment - and the left is typically more tolerant of non-traditional marital and family arrangements than the right (or at least parts of the right). Whatever the case, though, the Families Commission is supposed to be non-partisan. Rankin's comment gives me concerns about her ability to put aside politics and act impartially as a public servant.