Ghomeshi: Canada’s Shakespearean Tragedy


tragedyOne thing is certain. Whenever there is a “he said/she said” situation as we have seen in the Ghomeshi nightmare, the shit has hit the fan and somebody’s version of the truth has taken a detour into some nebulous land of denial or outright lying to themselves and/or to others.

When I was much younger, I found myself in two separate “he said/she said” situations. I’m not sure what that says about me. Maybe it says I was particularly attractive then even though I didn’t realize it, then, to the degree of the reality. Maybe it says I was particularly lonely and desperate, my vulnerability practically flashing neon. Maybe it says boys will be boys except it’s an excuse that’s no longer acceptable and you will get smacked down, rightly so, if you use it as your pitiful defense in the 21st century.

One of my “he said/she said” situations ended up in a labour arbitration which, in hindsight, was absolutely the wrong venue for any kind of real honest to goodness dialogue to occur. I was the key witness as a client of the therapist who was denying what I had to say about his actions in the form of a complaint letter. The labour arbitration had nothing to do with me except my letter had initiated the chain of events. The arbitration was between a union and a hospital. I had nothing to gain, except the inner strength that builds from speaking my truth in front of others in much the same way the Truth and Reconciliation hearings may have been powerful for some residential school victims/survivors.

The person I was complaining about – a counsellor in a small town – was fired. He grieved. When I wrote the complaint letter, I didn’t realize he was in a union.  My personal journals were subpoenaed. I experienced a lot of anxiety and depression and confusion and years of being focused on something that I could never come to terms with. In a 50-page decision, issued almost two years after the arbitration, the arbitrator upheld this person’s firing. He did not get his job back and the ineffectual rules related to counselling in B.C. did not prevent him from counselling others via self employment.

All these years later, I’m glad that the arbitrator made the right decision and fired him. The more I truly understand the therapeutic relationship between counsellor and client, the more I recognize his actions as beyond comprehension and the more I recognize how unethical and inexplicable (read stupid) his actions were.  He crossed a boundary that’s there for all the right reasons. He may have been a good counsellor (for other people). He also made the biggest mistake (we can only hope) of his career, and then, even worse,  he had the audacity to lie about it to try and save face and his livelihood.  Apparently he was a bad liar.

I found out later that during the arbitration, this person had a long list of character witnesses. That part was laughable to me. Needing a lot of character witnesses has to be a sure sign of needing to cover your ass.

But here’s the thing. Why do people who have never been in these types of scenarios have such trouble understanding that human beings are complex? They can be president and still be ruled by their biological urges. They can be a fantastic dad and have feelings for someone that make them act in ways that are beyond stupid and damaging – to themselves and to others. Why are we so quickly willing to forget Jung’s shadow side, a side that lurks in all of us, in some, darker and more evil than most of the rest of us can comprehend?

I completely understand why these women did not come forward. I see all the outdated male/female power dynamics that continue to support the context for this type of scenario to greater and lesser degrees.

But I am left with the questions of why?

Why would this fabulously talented man, Jian Ghomeshi, allegedly act in this way towards women? Our overwhelming blame on social media, without any curiosity seems too Lord of the Flies like. I think curiosity would be so much more interesting. Why does that creepy teddy bear reference immediately make me picture him as a child? What do we know about his childhood? Did something happen to him as a child? Was he abused? I do not believe that anyone acts the way these women have described for no reason, even if that reason is invisible and socially unacceptable, and having just written that, I am in no way defending him.

But I’ll go out on a limb and admit that I am wondering about his mental state at this point in time having plunged from his perch of fame to what surely must be the depths of private hell in this most Shakespearean of ways.

Or is he just ranting, privately ensconced somewhere, unable to take one ounce of responsibility? I wonder.

It would appear that he needs some major psychiatric help.

These women need accountability.

I hope they all get what they need.


  1. I don’t know what to say/think about Ghomeshi – I haven’t heard of any women coming forward to support him; that’s probably not the way these things play out in the media. I think if I had known someone, intimately, who was being tarred and feathered – such as in this case – and I didn’t think s/he deserved it, I would feel it my duty to speak out in his/her defence. Is this a sign that there is no such person in his case? Or perhaps we have not yet heard of them.
    I was struck, however, by your reference to the Teddy Bear’s .part in this ugly story; its possible relationship to “child’s play”….. Hmmm. Food for Thought??

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