Shooting the Messenger

27 - A Judge is Blackmailed

The end was near. I had been served with a notice that shortly, at management's discretion, I would be required to serve a ten-day suspension.

After serving this suspension, as required by law, I would be asked one last time to deliver the impossible report. If I could not deliver that report I would be deemed to have refused a legitimate request of management three times, at which point I could officially be dismissed for insubordination.

The fact that they did not have me serve my suspension then and there, as was customary, led me to believe that they were still undecided as to how to proceed, not that their resolve had weakened.

Whatever it was, it worked.

My determination to let myself be fired on bogus insubordination charges, then show up the Department for what it was in Court, more or less evaporated. The financial implications of getting fired for cause, not the least of which was the lost of the government’s contribution to my pension, only added to the pressure to quit and not risk losing it all, including possibly my sanity at this point.

What I could not bring myself to do was give Richard, Gordon and company the satisfaction of having finally broken my will to resist. I decided to offer my resignation, but not to my Director or his lackey but to the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, a former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Joe Clark. In my letter, I would offer to quit, then and there, and get away as far as I could from this insanity.

I rationalized my giving up by telling myself that Clark was an honourable, courageous man and he would do something about changing the way Foreign Affairs did business. I did not need to stick around to see it happen.

I could not count on Clark getting my letter offering to quit, and why, if I sent it through regular channels. I asked my wife, then one of 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, whom she considered the most honest MP she had ever met. I told her I wanted to talk to a Member of Parliament which Foreign Affairs could not bribe or otherwise influenced.

She did not hesitate, not even for a moment; “David Kilgour,” she said.

I met with the Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona for about an hour. He asked me to put my concerns in a letter to Clark to which he would add his own comments and arrange to have both delivered directly to the former Prime Minister, bypassing Foreign Affairs officials.

These precautions would all be for naught.

Because of Foreign Affairs' largely undeserved reputation for competence and propriety, alumni from the Department easily gravitate to the highest level of the bureaucracy including Clerk of the Privy Council, the top job in the federal bureaucracy. Gordon Osbaldeston, a former deputy minister (Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs) of Foreign Affairs held that position when I got in touch with David Kilgour.

In my letter to the Right Honourable Joe Clark, I write:

Because of my respect for you Mr. Clark, and my concern for the Department’s reputation—I have no wish to cause you or the Department any embarrassment. If I have not proven my case, I am quite prepared to assume the responsibility for having failed to do so, and would willingly submit my resignation given the opportunity.

Kilgour‘s letter to the same honourable man includes the following:

In a meeting with him last week, I was considerably moved by the nature of his concerns for the serious issues he mentions in his letter … I invited him to put the essence of his concerns in a letter which I’d send on to you with a covering comment.

My letter is dated May 5, 1985; David Kilgour’s is dated May 7 — the day the guards came for me.

What happened during those forty eight hours remains a mystery. If due  process was observed, I could not be terminated until I had served the ten day suspension that management had imposed and which I had yet to serve.

This blatant disregard of a cherish legal precedent would only be exceeded by the judge who would be called upon to decide whether observing the law in theory is the same as observing the law in practice.

What prompted the hasty termination which ignored my right to due process! Massé, I would learn later from an aide to Joe Clark, did not want to give me the opportunity to resign. I had to be made an example.

Ten days later I received a letter from Clark. In his letter, the Right Honourable former Prime Minister not only ignores my offer to resign (which at this stage is a moot point), but dismisses all my allegations, while expressing complete confidence in his officials.

This self-serving letter, so quickly drafted and delivered, is obviously the work of someone who knew what he was doing.  Joe Clark may have placed his signature where Massé told him to, but did he know the implication of what he was signing? I doubt it. Did he care? I don't know.

Joe Clark’s letter was the furthest thing from my mind when Luc Leduc, the lead council for Foreign Affairs/Treasury Board during the hearings before Thomas W. Brown, rose to make the government's final arguments as to why my firing was all well and good.

After three days of hearings before adjudicator Brown where a mountain of evidence had been introduced as to the perfidy of Foreign Affairs officials, including evidence that their actions to force me out were nothing short of criminal, what could Leduc possibly say in rebuttal?

Leduc did not even try! He simply opened his briefcase took out Joe Clark’s letter to me and, as he walked to where Thomas W. Brown sat in judgment, said: “I have here a letter from the Honourable (it should have been the Right Honourable) Joe Clark to Mr. Payeur where he expresses complete confidence in his officials."

He placed the letter in front of adjudicator Brown, looked him in the eye, and dared him to call Joe Clark a liar. His exact words, if I remember correctly, were: “Are we prepared to call Joe Clark a liar?”

Leduc may have said “we”, but he meant YOU, Thomas W. Brown!

Massé, or a member of his staff, had to have written that letter. A letter they would keep just in case some arm-twisting was needed.

All judicial appointments in Canada are political appointments. Leduc was daring adjudicator Brown to embarrass the very people on whom his job depended. This was out-and-out intimidation, if not blackmail!

What would Thomas W. Brown do?