Shooting the Messenger
35 – The Betrayal Of Joe Clark
My wife was in Montréal at a government sponsored conference at the Place Victoria Hotel where she recognized Denis Beaudoin. Beaudoin was Special Assistant to Joe Clark during Clark's time at Foreign Affairs.
She introduced herself as my wife and pointedly asked him what had they done to her husband? (“Veux-tu bien me dire qu’est ce qui c’est passé?”)
Denis Beaudoin, perhaps taken aback, was extremely forthcoming. The following is my understanding and interpretation of what she said, he said.
Mr. Clark would have liked to help your husband but he had an understanding with Massé that he would not interfere with his running of the department. He still blames them (Foreign Affairs) for his disastrous trip (the trip around the world he took as Opposition Leader where they lost his luggage) and needs their co-operation.
The conversation ended with a promise that they would extract some payback for what had been done to her spouse.
If it’s any consolation, the career of those responsible for what happened will suffer a setback.
And they did, but friends in high places would make it up to at least one director whose career is supposed to have suffered because of this alleged get even initiative alluded to by Beaudoin.
I was in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market when I ran into a Volkswagen aficionado. The man was a former manager with the Financial and Accounting Division of Foreign Affairs, the division where Post Accounts was located.
There was a gathering in the Market that day of a Volkswagen fan club of which he was a member. He asked if I wanted to see the club's bug collection. I did. My first car had been a late 1950s vintage Volkswagen.
As we walked over to the area where the club members' cars were on display, he asked if I was aware that Dave Gordon had retired. I wasn’t. He said they often played golf together and that he was enjoying his retirement.
Did he want to rub it in? I don’t think so. He enquired if I knew that, upon retirement, Gordon had been given a substantial bonus to make up for lost promotions because of me.
I gave no indication of how disappointed I was that Foreign Affairs would again, when it thought no one was looking, pick the taxpayer’s pocket to reward one of its own for, according to former Ambassador Raymond Chrétien, “taking a bullet for the Department.”
I sent an advance copy of chapters in the first edition where he is mentioned to the former ambassador. I owed him that much what he said about me in his report to Massé.
He called me at home and we had a very pleasant conversation. We talked for almost an hour.
The events described in my book were milestone events for me, not so obviously for the Ambassador. He had no recollection of what I was writing about until I mentioned that the story was about me. Remember, in the first edition, the story of the messenger is told in the third person leaving the reader to guess who he is.
About halfway through our conversation he asked if I would tell him the name of the Foreign Affairs' whistleblower. When I did, a light went on: “You mean, you are the guy who discovered that posts were not returning millions of dollars to Ottawa!”
The conversation was almost entirely in French, except when I asked him about what he thought of Gordon getting a bonus on retirement.
“He took a bullet for the Department,” he said.
“He took a bullet.” No French expression, that I am aware of, can as succinctly convey what I believe was the general feeling at Foreign Affairs when these alleged bonuses were handed out.
If anyone took a bullet, it was yours truly, and not just one.
I then enquired of former Ambassador Chrétien if he thought it was fair that the man at the center of my controversial firing got an ostensibly substantial boost to his already generous pension while I lost my job and my meager pension was taken away.
He agreed that it was not fair, but what can you do? He wasn’t in government anymore, and would rather not get involved.