I am the founder of Unpublished Media Inc., a company I started in 2012. I am also a communications professional and community activist, living in Nepean, Ontario. And, I am a hockey goaltender, political hack and most importantly, an advocate for grassroots, participatory democracy at all levels of government.
This letter was written about the OC Transpo driver who was fired for threatening a passenger in the Fall of 2011. At first, I thought he should be fired for his actions, but after reading about his personal situation, I changed my mind and wrote this letter to suggest an alternative course of action. Something positive could have come out of this incident if the City was creative in the way it handles conflict resolution, but unfortunately its too late now.
Just like everyone else in Ottawa, I was shocked an OC Transpo bus driver would berate and threaten a passenger the way the driver did who was fired earlier this week. Obviously, he crossed the line... several times over. But, while I wish the City of Ottawa would be tougher on its employees from an ethics perspective, I also don't feel it is right to destroy someone's career and life just because they made one mistake, even though it was bad mistake. We are all human and humans make mistakes. When we see extreme behaviour like this play out in public, it is likely that there is something below the surface that has lead to it or caused it to happen. Often, it is something unrelated. So, while I wasn't surprised to read that the driver in question has been under a great deal of stress lately, I have to say that I am saddened to read now that he has not only had an exemplary career, just three years shy of retirement, but that he has suffered the loss of two family members in a short period of time. Events that have lead him to move in with his aging father while maintaining an apartment for his adult children. Based on Kelly Egan's accounts, he seems like a good man who cracked under the pressure of extreme circumstances. In extreme circumstances like these, especially with employees who do not have a record of this kind of behavior, compassion is required in order to not make a bad situation worse. With this in mind, I would like to suggest that OC Transpo management, the Mayor and Transit Commission Chair Diane Deans, look for an alternative disciplinary action to firing. Perhaps a desk job would ease his stress while allowing him to retire with his pension, which it now appears he not only needs but deserves. James O'Grady Nepean resident