Shooting the Messenger
30 - Et tu, PSAC?
(Et tu, Brute? in print edition)
It took Thomas W. Brown maybe a few seconds, after reading the letter from the Right Honourable Joe Clark praising his officials, to realize that it was probably not in his interest to find these officials guilty of anything. As to when the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) gave Evelyne the green light to sacrifice her client to save a friend is unclear.
For weeks PSAC had strung me along, promising me, any day now they would be in a position to file a notice of appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal of Thomas W. Brown’s decision. Such an appeal, they said, was almost automatic; not to worry, and be patient ... but then again, there was that sticky question of one of their officer’s backroom dealings with the adjudicator.
It was the last day for filling. I was in a bit of a panic. I called PSAC to find out if they had filed a notice of appeal with the Federal Court. “Not yet,” a brother replied. He asked me to come in.
Finally, I thought, they were asking me to come in to sign some papers before the notice of appeal was rushed to the Federal Court building on Wellington Street, not more than a fifteen minute walk from union headquarters on Gilmour.
I was shown into a large office where a tall brother in a grey suit greeted me. The tall brother invited me to sit down, which I did. The brother did the same, settling his backside down in a high-back black executive chair behind an expansive desk.
The brother leaned back a bit and began a rhythmic rubbing of the top of his thighs — one hand on each, going up and down.
Still rubbing his legs, the brother matter-of-factly informed me that they had decided not to appeal the Decision of Thomas W. Brown!
Et tu, PSAC? An actual stab in the back could not have felt worse.
Maybe it was time to get angry with the brother with the cold eyes and tight-lipped smile rubbing his thighs.
I got up, and only for the second or third time during this sordid affair, I swore at the person in front of me.
I told the brother that I was going to file a Notice of Appeal and that sister Evelyne better be willing to provide an Affidavit of her conversation with Thomas W. Brown or I was going to forget about the sons-of-bitches at Foreign Affairs and come after the sons-of-bitches at PSAC.
It was an empty threat, the cupboard was bare.
The tall brother quit rubbing his thighs, leaned forward, putting his hands together — the pose reminded me of a Praying Mantis — looked me in the eye and said: “If you get the Federal Court to hear your appeal, I will talk to Evelyne.”
It was a promise, I am sure this brother did not expect to have to keep.
There was only a few hours left to file. What to do? I did not even know where to start.
I left PSAC headquarters and took the fifteen minute walk to the old wartime temporary building* next to the Supreme Court where the Court administration could be found.
I did not have time, they said, to file a Notice of Appeal. The Notice of Appeal had to include the grounds on which the appeal was being filed. They suggested I ask the Court for an extension of the deadline to file. It was simple, they said, all I needed was a compelling reason.
The only compelling reason I could think of on such short notice was something to the effect that “in the interest of justice the Court must grant me an extension; that justice should not be subjected to an arbitrary deadline.”
Some brothers and sisters must have been surprised when the Federal Court granted me an extension to file. My appeal was back on; time for a return visit with the friendly helpful people at the Federal Court of Appeal to get some advice on how exactly you did this.
* During World War II, an urgent requirement for office space led to the construction of temporary wooden barrack-like buildings throughout Ottawa. All of these wartime constructions, to the author’s knowledge have now been demolished except for the one on Vittorio Street which has been preserved as an historical monument.