Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Michael Bryant, former attorney general of Ontario

Michael Bryant stands in the doorway of Sanctuary Ministries
Metro Morning, the CBC radio program out of Toronto has used the "new beginnings" theme of the New Year to offer a five-part interview series on the "do-overs" of a fairly diverse group of people. There is an Olympic athlete who has reinvented her life goals after illness ended her athletic aspirations. A husband and wife recalibrate their lives after twenty years of marriage when he reveals that he's gay.

I also appreciated the interview with Michael Bryant, once a rising political star in Ontario, youngest Attorney General in the province's history and seen by some as future candidate for premier. He'd left office and returned to the practice of law when a 2009 traffic incident in Toronto dramatically changed the direction of his life. Driving in the city he had an encounter with an angry cyclist. When Bryant attempted to drive away the cyclist fell and subsequently died. Bryant was charged but those charges were eventually dropped, although not without controversy. Some claimed it was because of his profile and influence but the cyclist had a history of such encounters.

All of this took a tremendous toll on Michael Bryant. His marriage ended and he searched for meaning. He began volunteering at a Christian ministry called Sanctuary which supports street people and others on the margins of society. http://sanctuarytoronto.ca/ It turned out that the cyclist who died had spent time there and had friends there.  

The experience was profound for Bryant and even though he'd grown up "generically Protestant" and wasn't a churchgoer he began to consider ministry as a vocation. The Sanctuary folk wisely encouraged him to use his skills as a lawyer on behalf of those who often can't afford legal representation. He discovered that the law is not equal or fair and the legal system often wears down those who are poorly represented to the point that they make poor choices in pleas.

I found this interview inspiring and I was convinced by his sincerity about a changed way of seeing the world. I was a little surprised by some of the snarky responses of other listeners who were dubious about his change of heart. You can decide. http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1134613059857

Christianity is a do-over religion, a faith predicated on forgiveness through the grace of Christ. It puts us on the same playing field whether we are "high and mighty" or perceived as lowly in our society. I'm hoping that Michael Bryant will hold on to his changed perspective for a lifetime.

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