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Omissions from investigation into Steve Paikin

This ordeal I have had so far with Steve Paikin is the perfect example of what happens to women who speak out on powerful media personalities. I was warned by many PR experts not to take part in an investigation that was controlled and paid for by TVO as the scope of the investigation could change and eliminate evidence that could damage Mr. Paikin.

Despite their warnings I was surprised to see that the investigator did not even mention my reason for stepping forward with my allegations. In giving my statement I explained to her that a friend of mine had learned that Mr. Paikin was involved with his wife – he felt Paikin was destroying their marriage. The wife had also appeared on the Agenda.  I realized that my inaction 8 years ago had enabled Paikin; and although I had told a lot of people about his behaviour, it had done nothing to stop him. I had an ethical duty to step forward. The husband was willing to give his testimony to the investigator, but required a confidentiality agreement. The investigator tried to get TVO and Mr. Paikin to agree to it, but they refused and limited the scope of the entire investigation.

My case also had some pretty concrete evidence the biggest being an email I received from my assistant after we had lunch with Paikin.  

The email relays very clearly the events that happened, as well it pointed out that I believed exposing him would hurt me. Yet the investigator chose to assert that for some reason I coerced my assistant into writing an email that could have hurt me politically.  And she refused to give it much weight in her overall calculation. We found the email after weeks of searching through all my files – from boxes in my basement to storage drives and old cds. Many of my email files were erased over the years, but I had saved some onto a number of storage drives. On one of the drives I found the email my assistant had sent to me back in 2010,  and my lawyer had it authenticated by an outside validation company to submit as part of our evidence. 

The FacebookTranscript with EA  my EA wrote earlier this year also back up his initial email and the fact that Mr. Paikin came on to me in response to my request to get on his show..  

The questions I messaged to my EA were the same questions any investigative journalist would ask when piecing together an article. I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t inaccurately added anything to my recollection.

Despite checking with the witness, I did make one mistake in the article I wrote about my #MeToo story. I had forgotten that when I ran for the liberals in 2011 my campaign manager had secured me a spot on the show as the liberal candidate.  I inaccurately wrote that I was never given access to the show after my lunch with Paikin.   At the time I wrote the article, all I remembered were the years after 2011 when I hadn’t been able to access the show. I began advocating for transit expansion in 2012 as head of the Transit Alliance.  We ran a huge campaign around dedicated transit funding. Our events saw hundreds of people attend, most of the press came out, and I was on radio programs and other television shows as the go-to transit advocate in Toronto. But when I tried to get on the Agenda, Paikin’s response was “take me up on my previous offer.” Not getting access to the show year after year to talk about transit expansion became much bigger in my mind than one brief appearance in 2011 to talk about the liberal election platform.

Going into the investigation I thought that I was luckier than many women because I actually had a witness – my assistant – who had heard everything Paikin had said to me. He had served as my aid during the formal campaign period, but also during the informal wind down stage of the campaign. His role was to attend events, meetings and canvass beside me. It was not a position for a meek individual.  He had to be strong enough to face very opinionated people, and he could hold his own quite well in policy discussions. He prided himself in being a strong feminist. This is why his decision to back-peddle on his testimony and on what he had written quite emphatically in 2010 as well as in his facebook messages to me this year was so devastating.  I was shocked. I tried to figure out why he would do this to me. At one point I felt sorry for him. I wondered what could have happened to make him give up his feminism. I thought that perhaps he was intimidated by Paikin’s inflamed blog, and that he just needed encouragement. But as more time passed I began to wonder what had made this man I knew so well, completely compromise his ethics in such a way.

I went over and over the timeline during that day in 2010. We returned to the office after the lunch with Paikin and spoke about the come-on with a woman who was working for me at the time. We spoke about the fact that I couldn’t come out publicly on Paikin because it would ruin my chances of getting elected.  But I don’t remember much more about the afternoon, I would have had to leave around 2:30 to pick my kids up from school. We had started the day hoping to get me on Paikin’s show, and I might have suggested my assistant email me if they came up with an alternative way to get me on – his email seems to be addressing that issue.

That TVO and Mr. Paikin took my complaint to the public after I specifically indicated I wanted it to be kept private, is a tactic that has proven effective for protecting powerful men, but one that most corporations would not condone. Sexual impropriety investigations must be kept private to protect witnesses and encourage others to come forward. Instead, TVO allowed Mr. Paikin to come out loud and threatening over social media.  I wasn’t protected but shamed. The shaming was so extreme that it made conditions unsafe for other witnesses to step forward. TVO, is an agency of the Ontario government and their handling of my private complaint, was disgraceful. CEO, Lisa De Wilde did not follow protocol, and employees might have perceived that stepping forward on Mr Paikin would lead to their own public shaming. Their complete disregard for protocol should be addressed by the Minister of Education, who is responsible for TVO.  

During the investigation we had a witness who was, at one time, an intern at TVO, she had heard rumours and was told by another employee that Mr. Paikin did this all the time. The employee refused to come forward, which isn’t surprising given the public shaming TVO allowed Paikin to put me through.  

Another witness who worked at TVO for 3 years wrote an email to me:
“Good on you girl for exposing Paikin. He has previous for that type of behaviour and it’s been well known at TVO for years.
I wrote: “ Thanks – the hate is pretty rough. Did you work at TVO?
Yes I did, for three years. Can’t really go into it in depth. It’s not worth my life being disrupted.”

None of the evidence above was entered into the investigators report – it’s almost as if she didn’t want the public knowing about the witnesses who were afraid of being publicly shamed.   There are hundreds of articles written about how sexual predators  bully people into silence.  They are often charismatic, they surround themselves with supporters. And they often groom their families, friends and co-workers into believing in their image.   “Even people who know them well cannot conceive that they are capable of exploiting others sexually. Such predators are masters of deceit,” states Psychology Today.

Today as I reflect back over the past several months, I know that  eventually the truth will come out, more women will step forward with their own experiences. The #MeToo movement has proven that there is strength in numbers. 

I remember how vicious the press were over my claims that Mayor Ford was on cocaine, and the ridicule I received from the likes of Christie Blatchford for even suggesting the Mayor had substance abuse problems. I remember how Newstalk 1010 gave entire shows over to discrediting me. I remember how they all went silent when the truth came out. He needed help, and their lack of impartiality may have enabled him, and possibly delayed that help.

Once again the clickbait media have circled around Mr. Paikin declaring him the saintliest man there ever was on television. Once again they ignore the signs, they avoid the hard investigative work, and they attack the messenger. When the truth comes out,  I know they’ll slink away again hoping nobody remembers how they victim shamed and blamed me for stepping forward. I will remember. I hope you do too.

Mr Paiken: You allege that I defamed you. I did nothing of the sort. I specifically told you I wanted this out of the public eye, and instead you blew it up into a spectacle. You know Steve, you could have just chosen to admit you made a mistake and listened.  You could have decided to do better going forward for the sake of every woman you know. That response would be far classier than making yourself into a mid life power trip cliché.

Indigenous women not forgotten, the fight continues

I watched a devastating movie recently called Wind River. Set in the United States, the series of events painfully drew attention to the lack of effort put in by authorities when indigenous women are murdered or go missing.

The story describes the experiences of those who mourn the loss of missing or murdered loved ones. The movie also depicts how abuse is often overlooked by authorities in Indigenous communities.

This past week a longtime advocate for missing and murdered indigenous women,  Bernie Williams, gave final words to wrap up the national inquiry. Williams, now in her 60s has led the fight for women on the East side of Vancouver for 30 years. She shared her own story of abuse which started at the age of 3:

“As many of you know, I don’t wear shorts very often, because I have cigarette burns all through my legs right up to my back. … This is what we endured. We were just kids. At the age of 11 to 12 years old, six of us girls were sold into the sex trade work.”

Her three sisters and mother were all murdered and Williams questioned why it has taken 4,000 missing and murdered girls and women to bring about an inquiry.

Williams insists that it’s time that the wave of violence is stopped.

The inquiry will continue to carry on privately, and was initiated by the federal government in 2015. It was intended to investigate the high number of missing and murdered indigenous women across Canada and to give family members of the girls and women a chance to be heard.

Chief Commissioner Marion Butler has shared that the inquiry needs to continue on. Butler spoke with the Canadian Press  and  indicated that so far, the inquiry has produced enough material to draw up a report, but that the findings only scratch the surface of the stories that remain untold.

The Commissioner has asked the federal government for a two-year extension on the inquiry.  There needs to be an emphasis put on cases involving Indigenous women and girls that are not yet solved. All murdered, missing and abused people deserve the same respect and attention to be paid, regardless of race or nationality. It is also necessary for authorities to determine what is at the core and root of the violence so that women are not the target anymore.

 

 

 

 

Why you could be a victim of digital kidnapping

As a parent, it is your priority to look out for and protect your children. It’s a natural instinct. What if I told you that in some ways you are putting them in more danger than you can imagine?Have you ever heard of digital kidnapping? Prepare to have your world turned upside down.

Social media platforms are easily accessible nowadays. Almost everyone has an online profile. It’s a place to share your inner thoughts, opinions, personal and even intimate moments — a new engagement, new home, new pet, a new vacation, and especially a new baby.

New mothers love sharing pictures of their children online, but some vow to post minimal or no pictures of their children. I’m not a mother myself, but understand the need or desire to share every moment of your precious baby with your friends and family. Their height, their weight, their likes or dislikes. Your child is your biggest accomplishment and you should be proud that child is all your own — but are they?

Look up hashtags like #proudmommy or #momspam ( I mean even I am guilty of using the #proudaunt tag) you will find thousands of happy kids or babies, sharing happy moments with the world. This is where the story get dark, now look up hashtags like #babyrp #childrp or #orphanrp. The ‘rp’ stands for role play. Your child’s picture has been taken by a complete stranger. Your child had a new name, a new life story, and a new mommy or daddy. Your child has been digitally kidnapped.

Before last night I never even heard of the term or trend, until I saw a Facebook article shared by an old university classmate. Her caption was simple, ‘this is why I never post pictures of my child online.’ The article led me to a news story of a young mom named April. In 2012, she gave birth to twins, Sophia and Vivienne. She was a mom that loved to post pictures of her children online. April even joined a special Facebook group where she would upload pictures of her babies, which were often met with adoring comments and support. Then, one day she got a message from a total stranger alerting her that her kids pictures were found on another woman’s page.

The twins were now named Adaya and Kamberlin. These babies had a new mom. Her name was listed as Ashley and she spoke about the love she had for her children and even shared false medical issues the girls were suffering from. April was a victim of a digital kidnapper. The police were not able to do anything as there was ‘no crime’ or actual harm to the children. Despite threats of legal action and reports of a false profile, Ashley kept posting pictures of her ‘children’. Flash forward to 2016, and April was still fighting this digital kidnapper and even appeared on an episode of Dr Phil where she revealed just how far the story escalated.

April and her husband hired a private investigator to investigate Ashley- this fake mom came with a criminal profile and a longstanding “history” of her twins being taken away from her by her mother. Worst of all, there were pictures of her fake daughters all over her house — on her bedstand, on the living room walls, and in the entry way.

While this story is extreme, it speaks volumes to the society we are living in. People share every moment and detail online for temporary hits of pleasure and satisfaction from virtual strangers and distant friends. This trend goes hand in hand with artists having their material stolen and passed off as someone else, or even online fraud and identity theft. People catfish everyday, pretending to be someone else in order to get a date.  Cases like this did not exist 10  to 15 years ago because your personal treasures and moments were kept in a photo album inside a drawer and pulled out only when close friends or family come to visit. Now, nothing is private and nothing is sacred. Our culture has evolved so dramatically that this is the new normal.

The babyrp hashtag has been hidden on Instagram due to reported content that doesn’t meet the website’s ‘conditions,’ but from the few posts that remain, strangers role play the lives of babies and kids, giving them an entirely different life and creepy fantasies. This is truly the dark side of Instagram and, as I said before, the trend is small but growing thanks to our obsession with social media. So, what can you do?

  • The obvious, would be to limit the amount of posts with your young kids on social media or use platforms that only temporarily share the pictures like snapchat or Instagram Story.
  • Don’t include any identity details in the pictures
  • Download an app that helps you watermark pictures, similar to professional photographers.
  • Tighten up your privacy settings: you have the option to make your profile private on sites like Instagram
  • Review your friends lists and make sure you’re actually willing to share these photos with your online friends and consider e-mail for larges sets of pictures

Digital kidnapping is not illegal and it is hard to control, just be aware of what you post online and make it difficult for people to identify your child as their own.