Rémy was accused of never being available for a meeting with the members of the evaluation committee, the purpose of which was to review the report. Here's an account of the number of days where the committee members involved were available out of the 50 dates proposed by the committee secretary from July 20 to October 10, 2009: Rémy 44, Aurel Braun 17, Jacques Gauthier 12, Jean Guilbeault 50, Donica Pottie 9.5 and Elliott Tepper 0.5. I'm sure you'll agree that saying Rémy went to great lengths to avoid the meeting is quite simply untrue.
I'd now like to address a number of facts to do with the meeting on January 6. I went with Rémy, and I heard everything through the door. I can assure you that Rémy made an impassioned plea as he sought to defend his rights and professional reputation. Neither Mr. Guilbeault, who was mandated by the board of directors to sit on the evaluation committee, nor Rémy saw or received a copy of the revised report prior to the meeting.
The deputy chairman refused to give Rémy a copy on the pretext that his hands were tied and that any changes would be made known to him verbally. After Rémy insisted, he was finally given a copy on the expressed condition that he hand it back at the end of the meeting, which he had no choice but to accept. It should be noted that the report was in English only.
The deputy chairman was furious when he saw that Rémy was in possession of the strictly confidential memo in which reference was made to employees' ethnic origins. When the deputy chairman insisted on knowing how Rémy had got a copy of the memo, he repeated several times that it was an integral part of his performance appraisal submitted to the Privy Council Office. Rémy questioned the chairman of the board regarding the written report's inaccurate and negative content when a verbal report singing his praises had been given by board members at their meeting in March 2009.
The chairman of the board reminded Rémy that as an extremely well paid, experienced, senior official—those are his words—he could defend himself without the help of committee members. Rémy proposed changes to the report, but the deputy chairman indicated that he was not prepared to make changes to the content of his report. A motion to that effect was voted on and the result was three against one. Rémy insisted that the minutes state that he had no choice in the matter.
Over the course of the meeting, which lasted over two hours, I could sense Rémy's distress and his stress levels rising, especially given the fact that the chairman of the board would not give Rémy a chance to speak. When he came out of the meeting, he told me that he definitely intended to contest the performance appraisal and to file a complaint regarding the three directors in question for their lack of professional ethics and for obstructing good governance. That night, I told Mr. Guilbeault and the three directors that I was concerned about Rémy and that his stress levels were higher than ever. Rémy did not sleep that night. He told me that it was very hard for him to face the entire situation. After fighting for almost his entire life and career to defend the rights of others, he wasn't able to defend his own rights.
Jacques Gauthier's insinuations in the memo attached to Rémy's performance appraisal were particularly upsetting to him. Rémy also said that it was very difficult for him to come to terms with Aurel Braun's aggressive attitude towards not only him but also certain members of the board and his staff. How was Mr. Matas able to speak on April 1 about Rémy's performance appraisal for the period July 2008 to March 2009 when he was only appointed to the board in November 2009? On January 6, Rémy asked a similar question of the chairman of the board and more specifically concerning the relevance of the memo he attached to the performance appraisal given that he had only held his position for three weeks out of the period covered by the performance appraisal.
I should say that that kind of behaviour, both in terms of tone and content, is quite unworthy, shocking, inappropriate and downright incompetent coming from the mouths of members of the board including, and especially, from the chairman and deputy chairman of a paragovernmental human rights and democracy advocacy organization.
I'd like now to refer to other events that I think it important to mention. On January 7, 2010, Rémy was very upset to learn when a board meeting was called to order that the chairman had decided to change the agenda and have discussion on the chairman's report, that Rémy was suppose to present, and the item regarding his performance appraisal pushed back a day, to January 8. I would point out that Rémy had worked tirelessly on his report over the holidays as the report covered the period from June through December 2009. It was important to Rémy that that progress report be presented at the beginning of the meeting because it would shed light on other items to be raised later in the meeting for which decisions had to be made.
Rémy's sudden death on January 8, 2010, marked the start of an extremely stressful period for me, and I'm just as affected now as I was then. I received a condolence call from an official at the Privy Council Office, which was a tad shocking given that, in his quest for justice in the matter of his performance appraisal, Rémy had had multiple meetings and exchanges in the fall of 2009, notably with Eileen Boyd, assistant cabinet secretary at the PCO, on five occasions, with Keith Christie, assistant deputy minister for the Global Issues Sector at Foreign Affairs, on at least three occasions, with Jean-Maurice Duplessis, operations director at the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and on two occasions, with Claude Carrière, foreign policy and defence advisor at the Privy Council Office, in order to find an acceptable solution to a situation that was degenerating. He never received any response to his requests however.
I also received a letter of condolence from Minister Cannon, which was very complimentary to Rémy. I saw this as a bit of an affront, as I knew that the minister never responded to Rémy's request on November 3 to meet, a request that was also made of Jean-Maurice Duplessis, in the minister's office. To my knowledge, the very positive appraisal of Rémy's work for the same period, made by the minister and by Foreign Affairs, was not reflected in this performance appraisal report. In my opinion, the government failed in its duty to act as a good parent would, and that's what led to the ongoing governance issues.
In addition to the stress as a result of Rémy's death, I was faced with what could be called a double affront in the days that followed. First, there was the press release from the chairman of the board offering his condolences, which I consider was hypocritical, and then the leaking to the media of the email I had sent to the chairman on the issue. The fact that the staff responsible was suspended ended up delaying and complicating the administrative steps that had to be taken upon Rémy's death, and I am the one who suffered as a result.
Contrary to what Jacques Gauthier said on April 1, the staff never gave me Rémy's computer because he had taken his equipment with him when he travelled from Montreal to Toronto to go to the board meeting. After Rémy's death, I brought all his things back to our home in Montreal. On March 1, Mr. Gauthier demanded that I return the possessions before 5:00 p.m. on March 3. I assured him that it was my intention to return everything, indicated that I was in Toronto for medical care and that the deadline he had set was impossible to meet. On March 3, I received a second notice setting a new deadline of midday, March 5, and in which Mr. Gauthier indicated that a failure to comply may lead to legal action.
Contrary to what Mr. Matas suggested on April 1, exchanges between Rémy and Eileen Boyd at the Privy Council Office confirmed that the office was truly informed as to the situation at the board, and of the fact that it had been going on for several months. Rémy was not a board member at the time specified in the allegations published on two or three occasions in the National Post, in 2002, and in fact not until several weeks later, contrary to what Mr. Gauthier implied on April 1. It is sad that Rémy was surrounded by a good team and that he trusted his staff, but that he was not afforded the same courtesy by certain members of his board.
You'll agree that Rights and Democracy would never had been talked about as much. It is ironic that the visibility that the centre is currently experiencing right across Canada fulfills one of the Privy Council Office's expectations, as defined in Rights and Democracy's mandate. Moreover, the crisis is now the subject of attention elsewhere in the world, as you can see from the newspaper articles from FIDH, by Gerald Steinberg, William Schabas, etc.
I want you to know that I will, for my entire life, regret having supported Rémy, as I always have in my life, in his decision to accept the mandate at Rights and Democracy. Not because of the organization per se or because of the staff who work there, but rather because of the harassment he was subjected to for several months, which had a major hand in pushing up his stress levels until they became unsustainable. I will never forgive myself for not managing, despite all my efforts over the last months of his life, to convince him to finally drop the matter. He told me again and again that he would never accept having his reputation attacked, that he would fight to the bitter end and that he would not resign because he had a duty to his employees at Rights and Democracy. That was the great Rémy Beauregard.
For all the reasons I have outlined here today, I would call on the Office of the Privy Council to proceed with the withdrawal of the performance appraisal report and the accompanying notes and appendices in my husband's file. I am asking for a public apology from the seven board members who denigrated Rémy's skill as a manager, among other things, in the media.
I am calling for the immediate replacement of the four board members who made slanderous remarks about Rémy in public, and I am referring to Aurel Braun, Jacques Gauthier, Elliot Tepper and David Matas. In my view, those directors do not understand their role and are acting against the interests of Rights and Democracy by trying to impose their personal ideologies.
I ask that copies of my testimony be attached to the personal files of those four directors in the Privy Council Office. I also call on the government to order an independent public inquiry in order to shed light on all that has transpired and the events that occurred within Rights and Democracy's board over the past year.
Members of the committee, I would like to thank you for the time you have afforded me today. I hope that my testimony will have informed you of the situation and that I was not too emotional, as some of you thought I might be. Thank you.