Lucette and that Damn Firing
I was sitting at my computer, an early Compac portable thinking about who to write to after the Supreme Court dismissed my appeal, when she came up the stairs, put a hand on my shoulder, and softly said “You’ve done enough, time to move on.”
I was not ready to give up... I was not ready to move on even if two and half years without a paycheck had taken its toll — all our savings were gone and we were deeply in dept.
“Ross said he has talked to a consultant he knows from Montréal who is looking for someone to manage some of his people here in Ottawa.”
I ignored her, not something I usually did.
“Don’t you understand we are broke,” she said “we have no more money, the bank won’t lend us anymore; you have to get a job.”
I still ignored her. I am sorry about that.
“Won’t you at least meet with the person who is willing to give you a job,” she pleaded.
I had not looked for a job thinking it was pointless! Who would hire someone who had been fired from the Public Service with the Appraisal From Hell as a reference.
Someone was actually willing to overlook all that. If I was not at least willing to talk to such a person, I risked losing more than mere possessions.
I only referred to Lucette twice, and not by name, in my whistleblower’s tale for fear that the government would do to her what they did to me.
Her security clearance was somewhat more impressive than mine. If the RCMP, as the diplomats wanted them to, had declared me to be a security risk, as my spouse, she would have lost her security clearance and her job along with it.
I met my future partner in life while working at Communications Canada. She was a professional translator on temporary assignment at the agency.
We had been seeing each other for almost seven years when she decided it was time. We were playing backgammon at my place. I think I was winning when she said “If I win this game, you have to marry me.”
She likes to talk about how she won me in a game of backgammon. I like to think I let her win because I would have been a fool not to.
About a year after we first met she joined the elite of government translators/interpreters; the fifty or so professionals who provide translations services and simultaneous interpretation to the House of Commons, the Senate of Canada, Parliamentary and Cabinet Committees and Party Caucuses.
It was not her Master in Linguistics, and later her Master in Business Administration that made for the most interesting dinner conversations, but her interest and knowledge of the Classics (literary works of ancient Greece and Rome) and Renaissance literature, art and history.
It was a good thing that we had a wide variety of things to talk about because, many an evening there was no point asking her about her day, she would not tell, not even a hint. She had taken an oath to respect the confidence of the people she worked for and that was that.
As part of her job she often found herself in the same room as government Ministers and sometimes the Prime Minister.
The hardest thing for her during my confinement with an impossible task to perform and a promised loss of employment no matter what I did, was stopping herself from walking up to a powerful Minister, or even the Prime Minister, and pleading with them to help me.
She had promised me she would never do that. She did, however, confront an aide to Joe Clark in Montréal and pointedly asked him what had they done to her husband. She also recommended David Kilgour, a Member of Parliament whom, in her opinion, Foreign Affairs could not bribe or otherwise influence, to plead my case with Joe Clark; but that was the extent of her involvement outside the home.
I did not want her to plead my case with any of the powerful people with whom she often rubbed shoulders, not only because if she inconvenienced the wrong Minister she was out of a job, but this was my fight and it would be won or loss on its merit. My concern for her job was also why I did not want to see her at my hearing before Thomas W. Brown, or at my appearance before the Federal Court of Appeal and later the Supreme Court of Canada.
My opponents had revealed themselves to be people without honour. Her presence could only inspire further acts of reprisal with her as the means, if not the target. I would not take the risk, even if her counsel at my hearing before the Federal Court when Judge Marceau stated the obvious would have been invaluable.
There are some wounds and pains in life that you do not
reveal and which gnaw in solitude at the soul and diminish it.
Sadegh Hedayat, The Blind Owl
In some ways, my firing has had more of an abiding deleterious effect on her than on me. She actually blames herself for not having taken better care of me. As if any other woman could have done more, before, during and after. In any event, I would not let her, so she should not feel bad. But still she does.
In the spring of 2015 I drove Lucette to her job on Parliament Hill for the last time; her chronic lung condition now made it impossible for her to work as a Parliamentary interpreter.
Her doctor told her there was only so much time left for her to do what she always wanted to do.
What she always wanted to do was what she was leaving behind, and to help me with whatever I felt needed to be done.
2015 was a humid summer, and humidly (and cold drafts) make it difficult for her to breath so we spent much of the summer in the only room in our house that is properly air-conditioned, the bedroom, and fixed a problem I had put off for some time, the typographical oversights of Pain, Pleasure and Prejudice - The Final Draft.
Taking care not to lose her breath, she worked tirelessly with me going over every word and syllable so that what we would publish as Pain, Pleasure and Prejudice - Legacy Edition lived up to your expectations.
The Legacy Edition also allowed me to finally acknowledge my spouse's immense contribution.
When my wife passes away, assuming she goes first, I will be okay if I sell our home. The problem is, I want to keep her around as long as I can and the only way I can do that is to transform our century old house which, if forced to leave, will kill her more quickly than anything else.
If am going to enjoy her company for a few more years she needs a home environment where both temperature and humidly are fairly constant and dust is kept at minimum.
It's a relatively small amount, the twelve pensionable years which were deducted from my pensionable time when I was fired on bogus insubordinate charges and $100,000. At the time that I discovered that the diplomats were stealing millions, the government had a program whereby public servants who identified savings, when it was not part of their job description, were entitled to ten percent of the first year’s savings to a maximum of one hundred thousand dollars.
I did not apply because I was working at a job I loved, and being well-paid for it, and that was compensation enough, and then the roof fell in.
Lucette was still looking for some kind of recognition of the wrong that was done to me, to us, when she insisted I make one last attempt at justice, which might also bring some closure and perhaps extend the time we have left together.
She had high hopes for Catherine McKenna and to some extent Stéphane Dion, who, perhaps would not be afraid of confronting the diplomats about my firing. At this writing, two seasons have come and gone and not even an acknowledgement from either Honourable Ministers
She made it through this, thank goodness warmer-than-usual Ottawa winter relatively unscathed. Hoping for a relatively humidly-free summer.
Bernard Payeur, June 30, 2016
Toasting our 25th wedding anniversary.
Lucette's last negotiations (video) as Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Professional and Technical Employees (Syndicat canadien des employés professionnels et techniques).
Lucette's 50th (video)
Update McKenna July 20, 2016
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
House of Commons Ottawa,
July 20, 2016
Dear Ms. McKenna,
I must admit to being somewhat disappointed in the per functionary indifferent somewhat callous response to my letter of December 15, 2015 which, for some reason, took seven months to prepare.
How else would you describe a facetious reply from an elected official who is in a position to do something positive for a constituent "who still believes and remains hopeful, but could not get to the polling station that day because of a debilitating chronic condition" who dismisses her plea with a trite "best regards".
We are not in Parliament and this is not Question Period. Words and actions have consequences.
If you had nothing to do with this insulting letter and you are the honourable person that your title implies, I expect a timely (in my wife's lifetime) answer to why you will not do the honourable thing.
cc: Prime Minister's Office