Calgary Sun

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

FATHER FASTED BEFORE

Teen's hunger strike reaches Day 16

By NADIA MOHARIB, CALGARY SUN

The father of a teen waging a hunger strike won a battle of his own using the same tactic decades ago.

"It was more than 30 years ago," Eric Giles said yesterday as his 14-year-old son Clayton endured Day 16 of a hunger strike to protest a court system he argues leaves children without a voice.

Giles Sr. opted for a liquid diet himself and picketed outside a Medicine Hat dealership after it didn't pay the $25 fee for a warranty transfer on his used car.

"When they said, 'Stick it in your ear,' I sat out front," said Giles, recalling how supporters joined his protest.

Nine days later -- Giles said -- the dealership paid the fee, a couple of hundred dollars for his inconvenience and he enjoyed dinner courtesy of the mayor.

Giles has repeatedly said Clayton's hunger strike -- which the teen says he'll end when his mother waives her custody rights -- has been his own choice.

Clayton states on his website that his dad "has always given him helpful advice" but that he isn't "brainwashed" by any of his father's convictions.

But he also said his decision to starve to make a point -- like his father -- isn't entirely coincidence.

"It's kind of neat he was on a hunger strike, too. He told me that a couple of months ago and about what kind of response it got. When I was deciding what to d, I thought of that," Clayton said yesterday.

"I don't want to stop but I don't think I'd be losing if I did. I raised awareness and was hoping to do that more than anything."

Children's Services wants the strike to end, for both Clayton's physical and mental well-being.

"We are concerned whatever stresses and feelings of hopelessness the child was feeling will still be there after the child eats," said Bill Meade CEO of Calgary Rocky View Children's Services.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.