Calgary Sun

Thursday, January 18, 2001

Enlightening look at a hunger strike

By LICIA CORBELLA, CALGARY SUN

On Clayton Giles' website, there are 15 letters reproduced for the world to see. But what's most interesting and enlightening is the letter that's not there.

Of the 15 letters posted, five are written by Eric Giles to various justices of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta.

Eric Giles, 54, is the father of Clayton, a 14-year-old boy who says he has been on a hunger strike since Jan. 1 to protest his treatment by the courts.

Right from the beginning, Clayton has insisted this hunger strike was his idea and his idea alone.

But many people have doubted that from the get-go and now there's proof to the contrary.

On Dec. 15, 2000, Eric Giles sent a typed letter to Associate Chief Justice Allen Sulatycky.

This is what it says, in part:

"Clayton and I will begin a hunger strike on January 1, 2001. We will also picket the court house with many of his school friends. We call this the 'Children's Crusade for Protection from the Legal System.' The children's signs will read: Q.B. Judges Victimize Children ..."

And indeed that is what one side of Clayton's sign says. Shocking, yes, but not at all surprising.

Clearly, Eric Giles has orchestrated this entire publicity stunt, and if it's true that his son is not eating, Giles Sr. is endangering his son's physical well-being -- not to mention his young heart and head.

Likely, Giles Sr. realized the optics wouldn't be as favourable if he were involved in this hunger strike since he would look like an advocate of his son's starvation. As a result, he decided to back out and make it look like Clayton's idea.

It's utterly disgusting.

More damning proof of Eric Giles' hand in this whole sorry affair was exposed yesterday in the Sun by reporter Nadia Moharib, who uncovered and confirmed that Giles Sr. won a battle of his own using the same hunger-strike tactic decades ago -- all because a Medicine Hat car dealership didn't pay the $25 fee for a warranty transfer on his used car.

Eric Giles, who owns his own business -- Craftsman Construction -- admitted to the hunger strike: "When they said, 'Stick it in your ear,' I sat out front," said Giles.

Nine days later -- after apparently surviving on just liquids -- the dealership paid the fee, gave him a couple of hundred dollars for his inconvenience and the mayor treated him to a dinner.

Clayton, too, admitted that he followed his father's example -- if not his urgings.

"It's kind of neat he was on a hunger strike, too," said Clayton.

"He told me that a couple of months ago and about what kind of response it got," Clayton told Moharib on Tuesday.

"When I was deciding what to do, I thought of that," he said.

Add to this the psychological reports describing Giles Sr. as "self-indulgent and manipulative" with an "apparent 'need to win' in any battle" and the picture is set.

This is a man who will stop at nothing to win -- including shamelessly using and endangering his child to do so.

That is clearly evident in his court files. I saw a statement of claim that Eric Giles made, in which he sought damages from his wife, that is so repulsive and would be so damaging to his children if they ever learned of it that Clayton's mother had the file sealed yesterday.

Look on the website, legalkids.com. There's the letter written by Eric Giles to the courts on Dec. 12. There's the response by Justice Sulatycky Dec. 14 but Giles Sr. did not post his letter to Sulatycky dated Dec. 15.

Why not? My guess is he regrets having written it -- an uncharacteristic slip in his grand design of vengeance. Giles Sr. has a need to win at all costs. The costs indeed are great and in this case, there will never be any winners. Just losers.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.