"What are you up to Mr James?"
"Oh just writing".
"Can you step out side with us please - so we can have a word"?
As my heart begins to pound - I say, "Of course"
As I get up out of my chair it feels like everything is moving in slow motion. As heads turn in complete unison, I announce, "Its okay. Nothing to be concerned about"
Passing the counter the young attendant blushes as our eyes cross paths. "All is good my friend", as I try to send a reassuring smile.
Once outside I could not help but notice how respectful both officers were.
"So Mr James. What have you been writing about"?
"Guys I know why you are here. And I respect very much the fact you are. You do not need to worry".
"Well have you been sending out emails stating you will be ending your life at 12 midnight".
"I have sent out communications suggesting I would not exist by 12.01. That is correct".
"And is that what you plan on doing"?
"No it is not".
"Can you explain that to us".
"Well after nine years of fighting for social justice including nine hunger strikes with the oppressors constantly scapegoating my actions onto my being mentally ill I concluded I have no other choice but to prove a point".
"Okay but why say you are going to take your life"
"Well people including my sister and father keep saying I am suicidal, sick or in need of mental health intervention. And they do so as a means to avoid their own responsibility. They are obstructing justice. They are enabling injustice. I am now giving the other side a taste of their audacious impertinence. After nine years of hell on earth the Toronto Star constructed an article in September which was brutal, repulsive and extraordinarily humiliating towards Paul J James. It was defamatory and full to the brim with malice when they were committed to exposing the truth in the Paul James case. It was unimaginable what they pulled off and produced. It was the most sickening thing I have encountered over a lifetime. The rage I felt then, now and over the past decade has been at a level I never thought was possible to experience. And it is painful and unrelenting.
"Well we read the Toronto Star article. Paul, did you know there was a disclaimer at the front saying you are legally contesting it"
PJ wakes up and nudges me. He called us Paul. That is very respectful. I like being called Paul. Still think we could out run them though. They wouldn't catch us.
"The Toronto Star did? Interesting. I didn't know that".
PJ reminds me if the officers caught us he wouldn't fancy our chances of out muscling them. Don't be fooled by their niceness. They have an edge.
"What happened to you ten years ago would not happen today".
PJ completes a Michael Jackson pirouette delivering a slew of thoughts which I try to register all within a nano-second in order to make use of them. That's funny. That is exactly what Tom Harrington, Bob Rae, Bill Ikos, Mary Ormsby and others have said.....proving that what happened back in 2009 was wrong and they know it. And are coordinated in their communications. And so how the fucking hell are we stuck where we are. Why no correction. What would not happen today should not have happened 10 years ago. The law was in place. The education was there. It is Canada's inability to accept responsibility and accountability as individuals, as people as institutions. We are spoiled. Organizations make mistakes. No problem at all for them. Just Put it into the judicial system. Problem solved. "We'll rigorously defend our position", is an industry catchphrase. I bet you will. You cant lose when a system is so pitifully rigged when it wants or needs to be.
And so I point it out to the officers,
"The discrimination of my circumstances and health condition should not have happened at York University back in 2009 and the system has protected that fact from being understood ever since. I was unequivocally discriminated against. York University hatched an awful LIE to cover it up and the system has looked to protect it ever since digging a hole of injustice and abuse which gets deeper and deeper each passing day. When you do not correct discrimination then it permits the infringement of a person's human right to be treated equally and fairly to reoccur again and again, ruining lives in the process. It is the essence of the Paul James matter. And I have run out of options - hence hunger striking and now this dreadful but very necessary RUSE".
PJ adds to my thoughts and reminds me. Just like when we call Politicians like Bob Rae, and others psychologically sick. It is our antidote to them calling us mentally ill. Try scapegoating us as being mentally ill if you like but be prepared to meet an almighty antidote of wrath if you do. I am making a statement. Being labelled mentally ill, mentally sick never ends. I am not mentally ill or mentally sick. I am just a normal person with a substance disability who can function competently and I have proved the point a thousand times over. During my worse moments 10/15 years ago I was not only highly successful I was respectful and dignified in how I conducted myself. It was a victim less "crime" behind closed doors. Just like smoking marijuana was not ever a crime. Ingesting any substance is not a crime either. Responsibly opening up to seek support when we needed to was a dreadful, pitiful decision when it should not have been. And then with seeking warranted social justice we have been led down the garden path of deceit, collusion and outrageous trick after trick to get us to stop pursuing justice. A so called "helping you get back on my feet" stereotyped strategy was offered, when we don't need help getting back on our feet. We need justice served so millions of others can benefit and the truth of what substance disability really is can begin to be cemented into a nations psyche.
"Well in spite of what you say Mr James we are here to do our jobs and under the mental health act we have to take you to CAMH who are obligated to keep you for up to 72 hours unless they deem you to be well and of no harm to yourself or any one else. Therefore we need to ask you a few questions and conduct a search".
"I understand you are just doing your job".
"Do you have any weapons on you Mr James. Anything that could cause you or others bodily harm".
"No I do not. Unless you classify wine gums as being harmful. Would you like one"?
PJ insists. Make sure they only take one.
A smiling no thank you was the courteous response.
After a brief search I get into the back of the police cruiser and continue a pleasant conversation with the officers who begin to highlight the mental health problems they face. "We spend 70 percent of our time dealing with persons with poor mental health".
I close my eyes at that statistic. I conclude Arianna Huffington was right many years ago. We just cannot keep up.
Once at CAMH I am isolated one on one with one of the officers in the foyer. We chat for about 30 minutes. Very interesting conversation. I gained immense respect for Toronto Police as a consequence although my admiration for the force has grown over the years ever since a Toronto Police officer decided to insert 6 bullets into an 18 year old feeling the effects of poor mental health. It was a nightmare of all nightmares but seemingly also a watershed moment. There has been a noticeable shift on understanding from both sides. Police to citizens and citizens to Police. The Toronto Police while they have done a very good job in "re branding" themselves more importantly, pun aside, they have done so, with substance. Making every effort to forge a real human connection.
"So what is this case all about for you Paul"?
"Its about human rights protection under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Paul James matter proves that while substance disability is implicitly protected under Section 15 its lack of explicitness harms everyone. Ridiculously too many people still leverage substance dependence as criminal behavior and in doing so justify such persons as not being entitled to human rights protection. And if you are not being treated like a criminal then on the whims of others when it suites them you are deemed permanently sick, diseased and therefore hopeless, to be avoided, not to be employed and certainly not entitled to live a normal life without constant scrutiny and judgment"
"So you are thinking decriminalization. Things are changing rapidly within the Police force in this regard. Its inevitable very soon".
"Well its already here. The implementation of the very necessary Safe Injection sites deems a defacto-decriminalized position on all substances as a consequence. Any lawyer who could not get a person off possession charges for small amounts at this time should be disbarred, You have to know if you charge a person with possession of a small amount of any substance they will absolutely defeat it".
But there is misalignment with the Canadian Judiciary and political legislature which still has class A substances under the criminal code. The Paul J James matter has turned things completely upside down because if my case were to go back to the Supreme Court of Canada as it should. To be read by one justice. They would have no choice but to rule in favor of the Paul J James file because I have categorically been discriminated against throughout the judicial process and ever since I opened up seeking support. And if they do it opens the flood gates on previous injustices.
"Both officers mouths open, tentatively smile at the analysis".
"Consider the ten year period of use for me from 1998 to 2008 was also the most successful period of my life. Professionally, academically, and financially. Then when I open up my life falls apart and it gets worse and worse. And confronting the injustices has added to the nightmare of living a normal life. I have absolutely no enforceable human rights. Collectively the treatment I have now received can only be considered abuse".
"Well there are many addicts in need of proper assistance. It is very interesting what you say".
"You mean there are many persons with substance disabilities. Drug Addict is a pejorative, dreadful label. Please sever it.
Would you like to meet PJ? I don't give the officers a chance to respond. Its like releasing my dog Max off his leash.
And with that I switch the conversation onto my favorite subject. Football. And out pops a very obliging PJ.
So not sure if you saw the other day when Liverpool scored the winner against Everton. Jurgen Kloop the Liverpool manager runs onto the field and hugs his Goalkeeper. But it is against the rules and etiquette for managers/coaches to do such things.
The one police officer says. "That was great. I do recall reading or seeing something on it".
Its all the encouragement PJ needed.
Pacing up and down the foyer animated and excited. Gesticulating.
Well in 2000 in Rhode Island. United States vs Canada. 5,000 people, 35 minutes in Gaspere Borsellino scores for Canada. Ten seconds later I'm in among the players hugging and jostling on the field of play as if I had scored. Right in the middle of the field. An absolute no, no of etiquette. But I had no idea where I was. It was just impulse. Passion for what it meant - which was so much. And with ten minutes left at 1-1. Julian DeGuzman scored a brilliant individual goal. And there I am in the center circle hugging Justin Thompson and Chris Williams as Julian gives me a smile even Usher would have been proud of. But it was just pure unadulterated instinct. But it is against the rules.
To which one the officers intuitively says. "So whats the punishment".
"Good question. I suppose being sent off to the stands. I mean imagine the chaos if every time a team scored managers and coaches started running onto fields and ice surfaces".
"Is that what happened to you".
"Well it was a female who was running the line and so she warned me twice. The second time was quite the rebuke".
"Next day in the airport I see the same official walking through security and so I caught up with her and after a few pleasantries I asked her, So why didn't you send me off?" She said, "Well I could see your excitement was so sincere and inspiring. It was also an exhibition game. And after all. I am Canadian".
Both Police Officers laughed with the clear pride of being Canadian.
And with that I hear my name called. "Mr James. Mr Paul James".
Accompanied by two Toronto Police Officers I walk through the doors of the Center of Addiction and Mental Health. The command control for those who need assistance.
As I enter I hear within seconds,
"Hello!! Helllllo!!! Hellllllllloooooooooooo! Hello!!! Where's my assistance. Hello!! Hellllllooooo!! Not that fucking guy again. No. I want to see someone else. Where's my assistance. I have anxiety. Hellooooooooooooo!!
As I close my eyes. PJ whispers. WTF. As we look at the Police Officers - a total credit to the Toronto Police Service - they afford me a wry smile.....
(to be continued)