“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw
To the President of the Center of Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH):
Dear Ms. Catherine Zahn,
In late November 2008 my two youthful assistant soccer coaches at York University excommunicated with my family and I as part of a tactic to get Paul J James to attend a drug rehabilitation facility earlier than my start date of December 18, 2008. This after I had confided - in confidence - to them about a substance disability issue I was dealing with at the time. The disingenuous strategy failed as I completed my employment assignments responsibly and professionally including speeches at the Canadian Inter-University Sport men's national soccer championships in Ottawa, the OUA annual meetings and GOL TV soccer skills seminars and workshops across the country. The latter assignment I worked with and coached FIFA and Canadian international soccer superstar Christine Sinclair.
The extreme infringement of my human rights to be treated equally and fairly and with dignity and respect on such a personal health issue was the first of what would prove to be many hundreds of incidences of societal stigmatization for the next decade with seemingly, no end in sight. Unemployment, being fired for no reason, removed from employment for no reason, marginalized, slandered, defamed, discriminated against, prejudiced, scapegoated and punished among many other undesirable circumstances, followed. The impact and consequence of this very first incident, of being immaturely yet ruthlessly excommunicated by my assistant coaches, like all others, can never be eradicated from my mind. It was like being lampooned by lightening. Paralyzing, numbing and soul destroying.
A decade later on Sunday December 9, 2018 I entered CAMH on Spadina and College in Toronto escorted by two courteous, polite Toronto Police Officers. I had anticipated the officers would track me down and would take me to the organization you preside over. Of course, I hoped but was disappointed, that no one from the Prime Ministers Office, York University, the Canadian media or Canada Soccer had made any effort to discuss reconciliation of the appalling discrimination, slander, defamation and abuse I have faced for far too long from these institutions. During the previous five days, in the correspondences directed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I insisted if I did not receive good faith contact and efforts for resolution then by 12.01 December 10, 2018 I would not exist - in effect ending my life.
(In the coming hours I will be releasing a blog which itemizes what took place during the period 9pm December 9 to 4pm December 10, 2018).
It is a credit to you, your organization, your staff on duty during the period of time I was in their care that they bestowed onto me such decency and integrity. Being released after 18 hours highlighted your organization in this unit, was and is, highly professional, competent, thorough, respectful and very dignified in how they reacted and treated my personal circumstances. In addition they were inquisitive as to the PJJ personal story. The uniqueness of it. When I left your facility it added a skip to my step. In fact when I left your facility it was as if I had scored a goal for Canada. I clenched my fist to the sky in celebration as I jogged to see a Paul James supporter Kevin Tierney.
Ms Catherine Zahn. I am a normal citizen with a substance disability who has mastered its use and need.
I do not need to enter rehab. I am not mentally ill. I am not suicidal. I have never had a suicidal thought. I had no methodology planned to not exist on or before 12.01 December 10, 2018. I want to live. I want to live as a free citizen with the same human rights as I had prior to opening up seeking support for my mental disability. I want to one day again say that I am proud to be a Canadian citizen. Today I cannot. And so to be very clear after another devastatingly disappointing experience from a local Toronto lawyer; following on from a dreadful, painful defamatory Toronto Star article on my circumstances which avoided dignified, moral and respectful reporting in my regard but more importantly they avoided the TRUTH of the matter - a responsibility they had for the well being of ALL Canadian citizens; and this following on from 9 hunger strikes over a two year period where I suffered immense physical pain and public humiliation without not an iota of effort for resolution from the purveyors of injustice; and ALL this after 6 years of fighting for justice through the Canadian Judicial process as a self-represented Applicant all the way up to two levels of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Ms. Catherine Zahn I had no other other option than what transpired this past weekend:
My intention with suggesting that at 12.01 December 10, 2018 I would not exist was a ruse to thwart the purveyors of injustice on three counts:
a. To see how far the Prime Minister, York University, the Canadian media et al were prepared to go to avoid responsibility and accountability for the injustice which has been delivered onto a three time inductee into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and former Canadian international soccer player and coach spanning ten years; and the appalling collusion and on obstruction of justice which has taken place.
In effect the organizations shamefully outlined and proved they would absolutely be willing to let an innocent, victimized Canadian citizen, DIE rather than reconcile the Truth of such magnitude to ALL other Canadian citizens. Not a proud moment to be a Canadian.
b. To establish that I am not suicidal or mentally ill.
c. That my methodology in accessing social justice from extreme injustice protests of hunger striking is not mental illness but in fact a psychological legitimate choice.
Your organization. CAMH. Have provided the watershed moment in the Paul J James story. You have affirmatively established all three points.
Please note the following also:
A. In February 2017 I turned down mental disability payments and social housing from the Liberal government of Canada something I could retroactively receive for the past ten years - not an insignificant amount of money. However, on an integrity level I do NOT fit the classification of having an active disability which would prevent me from working. I never have. I should have been permitted to have continued work since 2009. Substance use as you know is not indicative to be accepted as a recipient of disability payments. It is whether your substance use disables you from working. I have always been able, free, willing and wanting to work most specifically in what I spent a lifetime developing myself in soccer coaching - my passion.
B. In 2008 and on public record from Dr Steve Melemis an addiction specialist, the maximum I would spend at the height of my disability trajectory was between $40-80 a day but this factored a tip to the in-between purchaser. 20-40 is all I am physiologically capable of ingesting as per Dr Simon Gossop from Kings College in London who solidifies in his research over decades that some peoples innate physiological barrier to becoming an "addict" (an outdated pejorative label) in the sense of being incapacitated of using large amounts of any substance. It explains why from 1998-2008 - the period of substance use trajectory - was the most successful period of my life in every facet. It is why my circumstances are so profound. From the day I opened up seeking support right up until December 9, 2018 my life changed for the worse. Not because of my substance disability. But the reaction to my substance disability.
C. I am fighting for social justice for the discrimination I have faced at every level of Canadian society including throughout the Canadian Judiciary, from York University, from the Canadian media, from the Canadian soccer media, from Canada Soccer, the Canadian Press, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment.
If you care to peruse the Confronting the Stigma of Drug Addiction website you will see the consequences of my labor over the past two years. If you do your due diligence on what I as a person have achieved and accomplished over the past twenty years it does not fit with the CBC's description for example of Paul J James as being a 20 year Crack Cocaine Addict from 1998-2018. Would an organization in today's world hire someone who is a 20 year crack cocaine addict? Can you see the discrepancy I have put my life on the line for, through hunger striking? Can you see why on Monday December 10, 2018 I announced to your staff that I would be embarking on a TENTH hunger strike. Only this Tenth One can be legitimized by the fact your outstanding Dr of Psychiatry on duty confirmed that Hunger Striking is a rational choice not a mental illness which the purveyors of injustice and malice have used against what is fundamentally a display of psychological and physical strength, conviction and determination. I believe if you were to survey the PJJ supporters who either played with or for me or who have followed this journey that these traits are indeed reflective of my character.
The purveyors of injustice cannot scapegoat my substance disability any more. They have a decision to make. Thank you and your staff so much for that!
Again, Ms. Catherine Zahn I appreciate very much the professionalism and integrity of your organization's handling of my circumstances this past weekend. It has renewed some of the faith I have lost in Canada and the Canadian system. I hope you enjoy the blog I write on the circumstance. Please pass it on to your staff on that day and perhaps they could forward it on also to the Toronto Police who similarly were outstanding with how they treated me. With such dignity and respect.
Finally, in the past I had reason to address a few stigmatizing disappointments on some administrative matters which affected my submissions to the HRTO from CAMH; and also with Sheldon Parchment who while a very good person made an error which perhaps he regrets now that he is more aware of the true/full Paul James story. In either event, the matters are closed and I hope perhaps one day we could meet for a coffee to discuss how I can assist your organization and others break through the appalling stigma which still surrounds mental and substance disability.
Of course I need to survive this next phase of hunger striking in frigid cold temperatures.
“Most people have good, honorable, humane intentions when interacting with their fellow citizens. If however, you want to turn admirable people into unwitting discriminatory, prejudicial, judgmental citizens then simply inform them you live with a substance disability. The metamorphosis is breathtaking and cutting, facilitated by profound ignorance and bias erroneously conditioned onto our psyches as normal behavior when in receipt of such information.
Confronting and Reconciling the Stigma of Substance Disability is therefore the pivotal challenge which must be undertaken in order to guarantee sustained positive change for future generations of our fellow citizens who through no fault of their own will be most susceptible to one day being assigned as a member of this highly oppressed segment of society. For the past three generations we have behaved towards persons in this unenviable group so poorly and inappropriately it now ranks as the most significant preventable immorality of our time”. Paul James 2018