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Omissions from investigation into Steve Paikin

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

My ordeal 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 – who have a vested interest in protecting him as he brings in a large part of the donations that fund them. I was also warned that the the scope of the investigation could change and eliminate evidence that could damage Mr. Paikin.

And the PR experts were right. The investigator eliminated much of the testimony from other women, explaining that TVO would not allow her to investigate anyone but me.  The investigator refused to acknowledge another affair between Paikin and the wife of a friend. Or that I had stepped forward to try to stop the affair and save their marriage.  The husband was willing to give his testimony to the investigator, but his wifes status in the community required a confidentiality agreement that TVO and Mr. Paikin refused to sign. 

My case also had some pretty concrete evidence the biggest being an email I received from my assistant who had attended the lunch with me and witnessed the sexual harassment.  The email relays very clearly the events that happened – from how we had hoped to get on his show to his aggressive request that I sleep with him, to my belief that exposing him would hurt me. Yet the investigator seemed to think I had coerced my assistant into writing an email that would have hurt me politically.  She conveniently refused to give it any weight in her overall decision – something my lawyer believed a judge would never do because factual evidence is much more reliable than the memory of a witness who can be paid off. My lawyer even had the date, time and IP address of the email authenticated by an outside validation company.

Then there was The FacebookTranscript with EA   prior to writing my article. I had messaged my former assistant to check on a few facts and learn about his recollection of Mr. Paikins actions.

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.

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 tried to figure out why he would deny what he had witnessed and subsequently written about the incident.  I wondered what could have happened to make him give up his integrity.  I can’t believe that he was simply intimidated by Paikin’s pompous blog, and started to wonder if TVO might have paid him off. 


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. They completely disregarded the protocol set out by leading corporations across Canada.  

During the investigation we had a witness who was, at one time, an intern at TVO, she 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 encounters and is known 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.

I remember how vicious the press were over my claims that Mayor Ford was on cocaine, and the ridicule I received 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 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 could have just chosen to admit you made a mistake. You could have decided to tell the truth and do better going forward for the sake of every woman you know.  But you chose to lie and that lie will cause all sorts of calamities that only you and the god of abstract justice will understand.

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.