Buying the stairway to heaven
Surely the oddest conjuncture of people and events came together in an op-ed piece in today's Globe and Mail. From an article whose title and contents frankly gave me the willies, "Can we forgive Karla?", by that indefatigable Christian flak Lorna Dueck, a familiar name emerges--Eleanor Clitheroe. As is so often the case, the main text vanished in a puff of vaguely sulfurous smoke. Clitheroe, Rev. Eleanor. Where have I heard that name before?
Dueck didn't leave me in suspense. This "newly-ordained Anglican cleric," now insisting that "Karla could be in heaven beside us," is none other than the infamous ex-CEO of Hydro One. You remember: $2.2 million a year salary, including the obligatory memberships in exclusive clubs, $330,000 for limousine rides over a three-year period (including dropping the kids off at daycare), and $214,000 in car allowances, presumably for those occasions when she took the wheel herself.
Clitheroe was about to follow the usual CEO path, heading off with a $6 million severance package and a yearly pension of $1.1 million. She had been named businesswoman of the year by (who else?) the National Post. She was Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario and sat on a bunch of boards and commissions. But Hydro One was changing, and so was the leadership of the Ontario provincial government, and this just seemed a bit much; and so her severance was cancelled, and her annual pension was reduced to the measly sum of $150,000, and off she went.
(What do CEOs do for their wages? Leap over tall buildings? Walk on water? Raise the dead? Questions were asked at the time about Clitheroe's actual work, but the same questions, in fairness, could be directed to any of this breed. Perhaps I'll go into a little more detail on CEOs and public policy in future entries.)
After she was tossed, then, from the top spot in Hydro One, none too roughly (although she sued), "she studied the work of the soul" at Wycliffe College, and is now the director of an outreach program called Prison Fellowship. An inspiration, one might say, to the worldly. And someone, as noted, who could wake up one day to find herself sharing her Philly dip with Canada's most celebrated serial killer.
With the acceptance of God's grace, there she'd be, Clitheroe says, "beside us." And that was the phrase that caught in my mind, the very key to the mystery. For Clitheroe never doubts that her berth on the glorious yacht in the sky is secure. It's the comfortable, nonchalant (dare I say bourgeois) assurance in her phrasing, uttered en passant as it was, that gives the whole game away. Here is a person who was born to privilege, who has a pre-ordained right to the best of all possible worlds--this one and the next.
How fortunate to be Eleanor Clitheroe. And to think that someday she might be playing shuffleboard on the divine deck with none other than Karla Homolka. God does work in mysterious ways.