Shooting the Messenger

Till Death Do Us Part

A Judge is Blackmailed

The end was near. I had been served with a notice that shortly, at management's discretion no less, 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. Or maybe it was just part of their psychotic game, keeping me guessing, keeping up the pressure. Whatever it was, it worked.

My resolve 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 loss of the government’s contribution to my pension, only added to the pressure to quit and not risk losing it all, including 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 to resign in a letter to the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, a former prime minister, the Right Honourable Joe Clark. 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 if I sent it through regular channels. I asked my wife whom she considered the most honest MP she had ever met; someone Foreign Affairs could not bribe or otherwise influenced. She did not hesitate, not even for a moment; “David Kilgour,” she said.

I met with Kilgour for about an hour. He asked me to put my concerns in my letter to Clark to which he would add his own comments and arrange to have both delivered directly to Clark, by-passing Foreign Affairs officials. These precautions would all be for naught. The paragraph in my letter to Clark where I offer to resign:

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.

My letter is dated May 5, 1985. In his note to Clark, Kilgour makes the following remarks:

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.

David Kilgour’s letter is dated May 7, 1985—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 was to serve at its discretion. What prompted the hasty termination, which ignored my right to due process?

To get around an allegedly inalienable right, Foreign Affairs simply deemed that I had served a ten-day suspension; deemed that after serving the deemed suspension I was deemed to have been asked to end the alleged insubordination; and deemed to have refused. This arrogant blatant disregard of a cherished 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.

Did Massé, having learned of my intent to offer my resignation to Clark, demand that I be fired on the spot, and due process be damned so as to present his boss with a fait accompli and not be denied the opportunity to make an example of me so as to keep the rabble in check?

As extraordinary as this statement is, I would learn later from an aide to Clark (to be introduced later) that this was a concern of senior management at Foreign Affairs. They were concerned that not firing me would encourage others to come forward with their own tales of malfeasance at the department.

Ten days after I was escorted out of 125 Sussex Drive, I received a reply 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 other than Clark.

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 by the diplomats 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 judgement, 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!

Now it all made sense. 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?