08.19.2012 07:15 AM

Michael Bryant

I knew him at different phases. Before was an MPP, and before we had received the privilege of governing. He was full of promise, then. Destined for great things. You could see it.

Later, when he became the Minister of Justice, and I was on the executive of Ontario’s bar association, it changed. I felt he had become a bit of a bullshitter, around that time. A bit too glib, maybe. I felt like he was hiding something.

And then, after everything that happened that Summer, I only knew him from a distance. Like all political people, I have a built-in compass for danger avoidance. Michael Bryant had become dangerous, so I did what all political people do: I avoided him.

Two things. One, his willingness to tell the whole story, as he knows it, takes more guts than are possessed by 99 per cent of the people you will ever know. It takes a lot of courage to put your name to all of that. I hope to do that, too, one day. There’s a story I want to tell.

Two, my sister-in-law, who (along with my little brother) I desperately want to return to Ontario because I miss them very much, worked for Michael Bryant. Like everyone else who worked for him, she remains fiercely loyal to, and protective of, her former boss. Even after everything that happened. In politics, I can assure you that means a lot.

Anyway. On the beach in Maine, reading. This story is worth a read. I like that she spoke to that young man’s father, to give him a voice, too. Like how she wrote it.

Last night, Michael sent me a note, right out of the blue. It was a funny note. I said we should have a showy lunch somewhere, as authors. He thought that was a good idea.

Closing thought, before I get the kids fed.

Life is unimaginable pain, for many people. Michael Bryant’s life seemed like that, but I hope it’s better, now.

God bless him, and God bless Darcy Sheppard, too.


  1. michael st. paul's says:

    Great article. Bryant failed Ontario as M of J ….. Caledonia never should have been allowed to develop as it did.


  2. Billy boy says:

    Just wish your “compassion” and “respect’ didn’t end when you find yourself outside the Liberal tent. You’ve certainly never been above trying to use other politicians’ ruthless honesty and self-examination to try and sink them -even when said events happened over 40 years ago.

    By many accounts Bryant was a total douche to work for and work with, but I too commend his brutal honesty and hope that the issue of addiction (substance and behavioural), especially when it comes to those in the public cross hairs, may one day become better managed.

    • Warren says:

      Thanks for the civics lesson, Mr. Won’t Use His Real Name.

      I argued against what the Libs did to Toews and don’t recall hearing from you then.

  3. Dennis Hollingsworth says:

    A very well written & classy commentary … Bravo You … Warren Kinsella !!

  4. Pete says:

    A compelling read and a good insight into what poor chemistry power and alcohol are when mixeed together.
    The fact he was sober when the accident occurred is in reality a subset of his personality disorder/addiction. I see similar reactions from recovering acholics that I know well when confronted with sudden “danger”.

  5. don craig says:

    warren.. your stance on Israel.. made me a fan ..it is too bad many more Canadians cant see this most important issue with more clarity.

  6. Ariella says:

    Hear, hear.

  7. Kaplan says:

    I struggle to find the ability to forgive the man for his pit bull ban, which has resulted in the pointless death of innocent dogs in Ontario. I don’t know if I can go all the way on that front, but I do hope he continues to pull his life together.

  8. Think Again says:

    What gets me is how gunnutz have been maligning & outright libeling him about this death because of their animosity to him over his stances on gun control issues…

    …even though this was actually the type of situation these same nutz want ‘concealed (or even open) carry’ and ‘stand your ground’ laws for: to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones against crazed interlopers.

  9. mrburnsns says:

    I think the reason Michael Bryant seemed so dangerous politically in the aftermath was his confrontational persona as AG – at the time this happened it was hard to see him as anyone other than the instigator in that tragedy. Turns out most of the bombast and ego as AG was booze fueled, which in retrospect makes sense. It sucks that he had made the decision to change for the better and ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  10. Western Grit says:

    I’m curious if Bryant’s book revenues are eligible to be grabbed by the next of kin of the deceased. I seem to recall back in the 90s, Ontario and several other juristictions passed laws allowing for recovery of proceeds of books written about these kinds of events. I don’t know if later legislation aimed at government intercepting proceeds of crime subsumed those laws, but it would be interesting to see if the family of the deceased will get the money or, perhaps more ironically, the Ontario version of the office of civil forfeiture.

    • Paul says:

      I’m pretty sure that sort of thing only applies if the author was actually convicted of a crime, which is not the case here so the deceased assailant’s family won’t be “grabbing” anything.

  11. BCL says:

    Hey Western Grit… why would anyone have a claim on any book revenues? Bryant was cont even brought to trial and there has been no finding by any court that would justify anything like that. Did you miss that part of the story?

    And Pete, he was not just sober when the accident happened. He had not had a drink in three years. Your comment is a bit bizarre in that context.

  12. AshleyA75 says:

    You’ve got to love people that are so willing to dish, pseudonyms and all, and so wonderfully articulate – I.e., “Bryant was a total douche” – now there’s some thought-provoking insight.

    We all have our demons, don’t we? Difference being, many of us don’t possess the fortitude to recognize (and overcome) them. As BCL so rightly pointed out, Bryant hadn’t had a drink in three years. Three years. It becomes so convenient to point the finger when one’s demons are substance-related, doesn’t it? It’s far too easy. Let’s not confuse the issue/conversation here. With all due respect, dearest “Pete” & friends, if you were in your car with a clearly unstable and irrate individual hanging from the side, your wife or child in reach, how measured and “managed” would your response be?

    • Pete says:

      BCL/ashley, I was clearly referring to his previous “life” of drinking while in politics.

      And, I totally agree and sympathize with his actions taken in the car. My point is that recovering addicts have a defense mechanism that can possibly trigger extreme emotions at times. That’s my experience with two recovering addicts I know well.

      I think his story is fascinating and sad in many ways. To have overcome his demons and then be thrust into the situation of that death is clearly bizarre. He needs some good luck from here on in.

  13. Paul says:

    I see nothing but tragedy here and I truly feel badly for everyone.
    I cannot help but wonder how it would have turned out if Bryant was not well known and connected. Bad things happen to good people but worse things happen to good people who are poor and/or unconnected. The irony in this case is that Bryant was part of a legal system that can be unjust to many who cannot defend themselves.
    I am certainly not a fan of Bryant’s politics but that should never be the lense to which things get resolved.
    I believe that another individual would have gone to trial and would have spent considerable time dealing with this. Perhaps they would have been jailed.
    We have a sytem to which men are routinely arrested and tried based on an accusation of spousal abuse. The fact that they may be in the midst of a divorce and custody war and there is no physical evidence, means nothing. Bryant was part of that system.
    To be fair, mandatory minimum sentences introduced by Harper is sentencing people to outrages stays in jail. If you think this is okm try to find out who this has ensnarled. It can one day happen to you or a loved one.
    I’m kind of a white collar libertarian, so don’t accuse me of being a bleeding heart. I’m just saying that the day our system lost it’s compassion was the day we all became vulnerable to it’s enforcement of it’s blind platitudes.

  14. a reader says:

    He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. You know when you meet someone and something struck you and you always remember that moment. He cares a lot about people and I just cannot imagine dealing with that pain. So lets stop making judgement, we cannot change the past. But we can learn from it and we can look in the mirror to ask ourselves: have I helped anyone today?

  15. scunny says:

    Now that we are ALL noticing, everywhere in the media, that Micheal Bryant is “a bit of a bullshitter”, maybe it is time for US to belatedly apply that knowledge to his version of the horrifically violent activity that occurred on Bloor Street three years ago, next week.

    Many people in our society have been content with Mr.Bryant’s version of events, which was compiled by his defense team and accepted virtually unchallenged by independent prosecutor Peck as the basis for dropping the charges against the former Attorney General. None the evidence now on the public record was ever offered under oath or subject to skeptical cross-examination.

    We folks in the messenger community have always known that what Bryant was saying was fantasy. We may not have much standing in this society, but we do understand how things “move” at street level. And we have said from the beginning that the former accused’s explanation never made any sense.

    Watch for improved-quality security-video evidence of the scene to start to leak out over the coming weeks.

    Many pompous know-it-alls may be very surprised by how stealthily they’ve been conned.

  16. faustino perez says:

    You *do* realize that he killed a man? For little or no reason? And has done nothing but mumble and prevaricate through every “interview” he’s given? Even the slo-pitch, friendly questions, non-judgemental media appearances have seemed to prove that he is not contrite and entirely self-centred. “Panic” is a valid legal defense for vehicular manslaughter? Really?

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