Boreal

Shooting the Messenger

21 - The Pontius Pilate Letter

The latest Commissioner of Official Languages to use the Ponce Pontius Letter to wash their hands of what happened after D'Iberville Fortier issued his report to Parliament in which he gently chastises his former colleagues at Foreign Affairs, is the current Commissioner, Graham Fraser.

The former journalist, in no uncertain terms, told me to get lost. His predecessors all said the same thing but were less unequivocal about it.

His Pontius Pilate Letter is dated March 11, 1986 and is signed by a Gilbert Langelier. Mr. Langelier reported directly to Commissioner Fortier, therefore, the former diplomat can be assumed to have given the letter his blessing.

His Pontius Pilate Letter denies that there was any connection between the sanctions and the call I made to Fortier's predecessor, Commissioner Maxwell Yalden (now Ambassador Yalden); that the shower of sanctions that followed my complaint and my dismissal for insubordination after the content of Fortier's report to Parliament became known was just a coincidence.

The pertinent portion of the Pontius Pilate Letter (my translation from the French):

...

It goes without saying that we can not comment on the reasonableness of the sanctions [taken against you following your call to the Commissioner] since the mandate of our Office is limited to investigating complaints of a linguistic nature.

It is with this mandate in mind, that we began a detailed analysis of the documents you provided Ms. Bragg; including a large number of documents provided by the Department. We also had discussions with the Department to obtain additional information. [After talking to the Department] we have reached the conclusion that the disciplinary measures taken against you are not related to your complaint against the Department. Therefore, we will not continue our investigation unless you can provide additional information ...

That additional information is part of the Federal Court record, which every Commissioner since Fortier has had access to but has refused to consider.

Graham Fraser's excuse, The Pontius Pilate Letter, is no excuse at all. It is taking the easy, the unprincipled way out.

It is unfortunate that Commissioner Fraser considers the case closed and will not recommend an independent investigation into what happened.

I have no wish to speak ill of the dead, especially an Order of Canada recipient, but something is wrong here, very wrong.

Maxwell Yalden started what D’Iberville Fortier would finish. Their investigation would reveal much more than anyone had bargained for, as explained in a letter me.

“As I mentioned, our investigation at the headquarters of External Affairs allowed us to appreciate that the incident you reported is just a symptom of a much larger problem. Our report, which will be submitted to the Department shortly, will be addressing these wider issues…”

“You have our assurances that you will be kept informed of the results of our discussions [with the Department] following the presentation of our report …”

Mary Lee Bragg, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

November 23, 1984.

Mrs. Bragg's letter makes a mockery of Fortier's mild criticism of his former fraternity in his report to Parliament.

Ms. Bragg's letter would also be the last substantial communication from the Commissioner's Office during my remaining short time at Foreign Affairs. The knives were out!