Hmmm, sounds like some sensitivity training is needed at VIA Rail, ASAP. Already stepping in a giant pile of you know what, over the advertising scandal, Via Rail Chairman Jean Pelletier decided he wasn't on enough of a hot seat. Pelletier managed to draw even more attention upon his stewardship of the national passenger railway, when he conducted a bit of character assassination on a former employee, one who was a former Olympic hero to boot.
Pelletier was responding to the remarks of Myriam Bedard, a two time Olympic gold medalist, who used to work for VIA as a PR marketing person. Bedard was removed from her job in 2002 when she complained about possible over billing at Via Rail involving the now scandal plagued GroupAction advertising agency. VIA management, apparently didn't enjoy having it's employees watching out for it's monies.
Mr. Pelletier, who took over at VIA Rail after working as Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Jean Chretien, took offense at her comments to La Presse newspaper, calling her a liar! He then leveled a blistering and mean spirited attack on her character. Said Mr. Pelletier: "I don't want to be mean, but this is a poor girl who deserves pity, who doesn't have a spouse, as far as I know," he said. "She is struggling as a single mother with economic responsibilities. Deep down, I think she is pitiful."
When word of the chairman's comments were made public, the condemnation was universal, the opposition called for his dismissal immediately. As it turned out Pelletier was not only a boor, but an uninformed one at that, Ms. Bedard is presently married, but now is a beacon for single mom's everywhere.
The uproar even caught the ear of an ever attentive Prime Minister, who said the comments were completely unacceptable. Suggesting that not only would Pelletier want to withdraw, them he would no doubt want to make an apology. Shortly afterwards an apology to Ms. Bedard was made public by the embattled chairman, who is now involved in a fine bit of damage control.
It may all be a lost cause for Pelletier though. Prime Minister Martin has made executive accountability his highest priority in the wake of the scandal. To have a federally funded corporation treat it's employees with such callous dis-regard, won't do much to make the public believe anything is changing, especially when the employee under attack was only trying to bring to light the ugly side of government financing.
One would think Mr. Pelletier is busy preparing his resume, waiting for word to take the last train out of town.