Sur­viv­ing bul­ly­ing

The Compass - - OPINION -

Un­less you’ve been sleep­ing for the last few years you will be aware that our premier for life and the Prime Min­is­ter of Canada du Jour...how should I put this...they can’t stand each other.

They ex­press it in dif­fer­ent ways.

Premier Wil­liams is very open in his anger at Steve. That may be be­cause he is used to be­ing an­gry. He is used to it, be­cause he’s an­gry all the time. He is a pro­fes­sional an­gry man, a very suc­cess­ful one. His anger has been the abun­dant fuel for a re­ward­ing ca­reer in the le­gal pro­fes­sion. He is well known for ex­tract­ing ex­cel­lent set­tle­ments for in­jured clients and the prin­ci­ple tool he uses is in­tim­i­da­tion. He used to get so an­gry on be­half of his clients that the op­pos­ing lawyers melted in the white hot tor­rent of his rage, hissed out through clenched teeth, us­ing vo­cab­u­lary that can’t be printed here.

I know a per­son who used to work in the le­gal pro­fes­sion. I’ll call him “for­mer legal­guy”, or “F.L.” His job was to try to rec­on­cile law­suits be­fore they went to court. Most of­ten, this in­volved phone con­ver­sa­tions with lawyers rep­re­sent­ing clients who were su­ing his firm’s clients.

F.L. at­tributes the fact that he bailed out early from what he had hoped would be a life-long pro­fes­sion, to the sev­eral deal­ings he had with our premier-to-be. F.L. be­gan to sus­pect that prac­tic­ing law, if this was what it was go­ing to be like, was not the ca­reer for him. F.L. couldn’t take it, he said, the man scared him. He couldn’t sleep the night be­fore a sched­uled phone con­ver­sa­tion. The phone call in­evitably turned out to be less a con­ver­sa­tion than a mono­logue. It was Danny who was do­ing all the scream­ing. F.L.’s arm was scarcely long enough to hold the phone at a safe dis­tance to avoid dam­ag­ing his eardrums. Af­ter the pre­mierto-be had fin­ished shriek­ing an ul­ti­ma­tum, he would slam down the phone. F.L. was left clutch­ing the re­ceiver as far from his head as pos­si­ble, his hand trem­bling un­con­trol­lably, his shirt soaked with sweat, his mind racing through a list of pos­si­ble ca­reer al­ter­na­tives.

F.L. had been bul­lied by an ex­pert. It worked.

The Prime Min­is­ter du Jour, dubbed “Steve” by Ge­orge W., a name that Danny helped make stick, ex­presses his ut­ter dis­taste for the premier in an­other way. He is quiet, se­cre­tive and de­ter­mined. He too is a bully

His main tool is de­ceit. Every­one in this prov­ince has learned the painful les­son that the P.M. du Jour re­gards the truth in a dif­fer­ent way than most of us. This learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence has been a multi-bil­lion dol­lar les­son so far, and classes are not fin­ished yet.

Most of us think of the truth as an ab­so­lute, some­thing solid, un­change­able, with a length a width, a height and a weight.

Not Steve. He thinks of it as putty.

Take the case of Abous­fian Ab­del­razik, a Cana­dian who is, as I write this, stranded in Su­dan, aban­doned by Steve and his gov­ern­ment, un­able to re­turn to his home and fam­ily in Canada. Re­mem­ber Ma­her Arar? He was dealt with in a sim­i­lar way by a pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. Cana­dian tax­pay­ers ul­ti­mately paid Arar mil­lions in com­pen­sa­tion for the shock­ing and ut­terly dis­grace­ful way he was treated in our name. Well, here we go again. In 2003 Mr. Ab­del­razik was in Khar­toum to visit his mother when CSIS, our spy agency, en­cour­aged the Gov­ern­ment of Su­dan to pick him up. This ul­ti­mately led to him be­ing jailed and tor­tured. Why CSIS did this we don’t know, but while he was held in Su­dan, Ab­del­razik’s Cana­dian pass­port ex­pired. His wife was pre­vented from send­ing him money or an air­line ticket home.

With no pass­port, plane ticket or cash he’s been stuck in Khar­toum since 2003, where he is sleep­ing on a cot in the Cana­dian Em­bassy. CSIS, the peo­ple who started the whole thing, the RCMP, the Gov­ern­ment of Cana- da and the Gov­ern­ment of Su­dan have laid no charges against him. They all agree there is no ev­i­dence he ever did any­thing wrong. Steve and Co. promised to pro­vide a pass­port if he could find an air­line will­ing to fly him.

A group of car­ing pri­vate cit­i­zens found that air­line.

With the help of a long list of benev­o­lent donors in­clud­ing Stephen Lewis, Canada’s for­mer am­bas­sador to the U.N., money was raised to buy him a ticket.

But then For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lau­rence Can­non, one of Steve’s big guns, claimed that the U. N. had some­thing against Ab­del­razik, that would pre­vent our gov­ern­ment from al­low­ing him to re­turn home.

What do they call it when a big gun ut­ters a false­hood? Min­is­ter Can­non mis­spoke.

In­deed, un­der the cir­cum­stances the U.N. in­sists they can­not pre­vent any ci­ti­zen from re­turn­ing to his home­land.

On April 3, Ab­del­razik was sup­posed to fly home. A group of donors who had helped raise the money for his ticket, flew to Khar­toum to make sure his pass­port was de­liv­ered and that he got on the plane.

No pass­port ar­rived. Steve, our P.M. du Jour, was un­avail­able for com­ment. Amaz­ingly For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Can­non wasn’t ei­ther. Ab­del­razik? Still in Khar­toum. This is bul­ly­ing on a scale that can only make our premier green with envy. It also ex­plains why Danny and Steve have such a devil of a time get­ting along.

No bully likes to be beaten up by a big­ger bully. Plus Danny is jeal­ous. He can only bully in New­found­land and Labrador, while Steve can bully world­wide as Abous­fian Ab­del­razik has learned.

On the other hand, Steve is al­ler­gic to Danny be­cause he re­fuses to ac­cept when he has been out­bul­lied. He’s only a lit­tle bully, a pest, and he won’t stop squeal­ing.

So what do we do, trapped in this prov­ince be­tween war­ring bul­lies? How do we avoid be­com­ing col­lat­eral dam­age?

First, vote against any can­di­date who comes for­ward for Harper’s party. Watch and wait as Steve in his sys­tem­atic way, angers one group of vot­ers af­ter an­other across the coun­try. Be pa­tient. This part of the prob­lem will solve it­self in time.

As for the lit­tle bully? Con­tact the school board where you live. Ask if they have any anti-bul­ly­ing pro­grammes avail­able. They will. Anti-bul­ly­ing is a hot topic now. En­roll Danny Wil­liams in a pro­gramme in your area. Forge his sig­na­ture if nec­es­sary. It worked for Ed Byrne. Danny will be trav­el­ling from one school gym­na­sium and church base­ment to an­other, all around the prov­ince, at­tend­ing meet­ings and stand­ing in the cor­ner. He won’t have time for bul­ly­ing.

In his ab­sence maybe some­one will ap­pear on the scene to take his place. Some­one who just wants to help gov­ern the prov­ince calmly, wisely and fairly. Some­one who’s not a bully.

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