Even though I didn’t know it at the time my 1996 MacLean’s magazine Letter to the Editor about sexual Predator Paul Bernardo was perhaps my first published blog post

Besides the cleaning out of the old to make way for the new exercise, you know what’s great about going through your old business stuff in the basement . . . you find some pretty amazing things.

Like the lines within the trunk of a tree that mark the passing of years, these forgotten treasures stir fresh the memories that instantly transport you back to another time and place.

For example, I found a 1989 newsletter which referenced my first major contract as follows; “From a cold call made just over two months ago, Jon Hansen, a National Account Rep at Compucentre Toronto has landed a multi-million national account contract with Deloitte Haskins + Sells, one of the largest accounting firms in the world.”

What stood out the most from this discovery is that I do not remember ever looking that young.  Nor was the reflective moment lost on me in terms of the fact that at the time I did not truly appreciate the accomplishment, instead focusing on the reality of making it happen.

I also found my invitation to the Earnst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award luncheon for which I received a nomination for the Capital Region in both 2004 and 2005.  While I did’t win, it really was an honour just to be nominated.

Coupled with the find from a previous basement memorabilia adventure through which I uncovered a recording of the first interview I gave after selling my software company at the height of dot.com boom for $12 million ($1 million cash and the rest stocks that ultimately were not worth the paper upon which they were written), these collective pieces of my past tell an interesting story in an almost resume-like fashion.

Yet despite the above as well as other similar recordings of past career-oriented events, the one item that seems to connect who I was then, with who I am today, was a photocopy of a Letter to the Editor of MacLean’s magazine that found its way into the July 1996 printed publication.

Titled Lessons In mistrust, the letter (or in today’s vernacular blog), lamented the loss of innocence brought about by the Paul Bernardo crimes in which it was discovered that the man who had been called the Scarborough Rapist was also a killer.

In a somewhat ironic twist I had, on several occasions, an opportunity to golf with the prosecuting attorney or Crown as they are called here in Canada, Murray Segal.  For those unfamiliar with the case, it was Segal’s controversial plea agreement with Bernardo’s wife and accomplice Karla Homolka, that the prosecutor struck as a means of assuring Bernardo’s conviction and permanent residency in a Canadian correctional facility that, to this day, does not sit well with many Canadians.  While we never really discussed the case, it was clear that one of the most compelling aspects of the crime and related prosecution was the fact that almost no one – including Homolka’s family, could reconcile the happy picture of a young married couple with the depraved and heinous crimes they had committed.  This included the murder of Homolka’s younger sister Tammy on Christmas Eve in 1990.

Benardo and Homolka's Victims

Suffice to say, and even though not the first crime of it’s kind in Canada, it was by far the most sensational and as such reverberated throughout the land from coast-to-coast.

It was this consequential or collateral impact upon which I based my Lessons in mistrust post.  Besides excusing the somewhat self-indulgent sharing of the letter 15 years later, I hope that you enjoy reading it.

from the July 1995 issue of MacLeans magazine letter Lessons in mistrust by Jon Hansen

It was only recently that I began to understand the wider impact of these horrible crimes for which Paul Bernardo is being tried.

Returning from an evening out with my wife, we came across a young woman (mid- to late teens) walking her dog.  Because it appeared to be of a similar breed to our own dog, we stopped the car to ask her if it in fact was the same.

With noticeable trepidation, she said yes and quickly moved on.

At that moment, it dawned on me that this young girl’s faith in the decency of a fellow human being was gone.

It made me recall a time when I was eight or nine years old and had bought a large chocolate ice-cream cone. Before I tasted it, it fell from my hands upside down on the roadway.  No sooner had the tears begun to well up in my eyes, than a man I had never seen before took pity on my plight and gave me another quarter (to buy another cone).

I will never forget his act of kindness, but I couldn’t help but think that if this had occurred today, I, like the young girl, would have been taught to mistrust the actions and intentions of any stranger, no matter how harmless.

This is the tragedy of our children’s world.


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