This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada which means an extra day off of work and more time for reading. Yeah!!!!
I am currently reading (and almost finished) two books.
Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi. This book is set in Giverny, France, in particular in Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. A body has been found in the garden and the mystery unfolds from there. The book contains great descriptions about the garden and Monet’s life in the small village. Makes me want to book a trip there! I am about 60% complete and will finish it sometime this weekend.
The other book that I have almost completed was a complete surprise when I spotted it at the bookstore this week. It is Secret Life (The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation) by Kevin Donovan. Kevin is a reporter with the Toronto Star and was heavily involved in this story even before it broken in the fall of 2014.
Jian Ghomeshi was the golden boy at CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). His talk show called Q had a large and varied listener base – he had people in their 30’s to seniors listening to his show. It was considered an art and culture show as he often talked books, music, art and had major and minor celebrities/musicians/actors on his show. He was also active in the book/author community by hosting the week long program “Canada Reads” and hosting the Scotiabank Giller Prize award ceremony which is televised each November.
When he was fired from CBC two years ago, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. It was a Sunday afternoon and I got a notice on my Ipad informing me that CBC had put out a special statement announcing that Jian would no longer be with CBC. I remember thinking “what the hell is going on – he is the goose who laid the golden egg for CBC”. The CBC has always struggled financially and with finding talent.
A few hours later this story had gotten legs and the next news item was a Facebook posting that Jian had posted which described how he was fired from the CBC because of his bedroom activities and that he enjoyed “rough sex” but that he always had consent from his partners. At the time I was torn between feeling like Jian had a right to be angry — should corporations be involved in what happens in a staff members’ bedroom, but on the other hand, what Ghomeshi had laid out on his Facebook page had the “ick factor”. As Kevin Donovan from the Toronto Star kept reporting over the days to come, woman started coming forward and claiming that they had been physically and sexually abused by Jian and it was not consensual. Some of them went to the police and filed charges.
Eventually a trial was held and he was found not guilty on all counts. I have a lot of feelings about the outcome of the trial. I believe the woman and their claims, however, I also believe they showed poor judgement in their relations with him. In some cases, he would physically abuse them but they would turn around and text him the next day a picture of themselves or try to continue to date him. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in blaming the victim and in my opinion, he should have been found guilty but I don’t believe these women did themselves any favors with their actions. The judge found that as they continued to try to have contact with Ghomeshi, he found it difficult to believe their claims and therefore, found him not guilty.
As the next sexual assault trial against Ghomeshi was set to start, he came to an agreement with the Crown and signed a peace bond and issued an apology for his actions against Kathryn Borel. Borel was also a former CBC employee who claimed that Ghomeshi had sexually harassed her on the job.
So essentially he walked away from all the allegations with no retribution other than his reputation and career is in tatters.
Before the CBC firing of Ghomeshi, Kevin Donovan had been investigating rumors of his reputation among women and how he treated them. He didn’t have enough proof to file a story until the CBC actually fired Ghomeshi. This book outlines the timeline of everything that occurred during his investigations and reporting of this matter.
One of the things that I found so maddening about Ghomeshi was that he portrayed himself as a feminist and supportive of women. At the beginning of each Q episode he would give a three or four minute monologue about an issue he wanted to address and many, many times it was about women’s rights, feminism, rape culture, etc. It turns out that he never wrote any of these “essays” and that they were always written by his staff.
In so many ways, I am disappointed in Jian Ghomeshi – not only how he treated women and thought it was his right to do so, but I also feel that he was extremely dishonest in allowing his audience to assume that he was the author of the opinions expressed during the Q monologues. It was like someone drawing back the curtain at Oz so that we could all see the strings and what the reality actually was. I feel no sympathy whatsoever for him.
Also, during reviews of CBC’s practices, it has come to light that despite complaints by women to Q producers, nothing was ever said or done to curb Ghomeshi’s sexual harassment in the work place. They turned a blind eye because he was considered a “CBC God”. I understand that they are now trying to adopt a new culture among staff, but I just have to say “shame on you CBC – you should have known and done better than you did”. I hope that the culture at the corporation can and will change. In my opinion, if it doesn’t, public funding towards this institution should be stopped.