So, farewell, then, Tony Battista. The much-unloved CEO of braünnosing defence lobby shop, the Conference of Defence Associations, announced in a May 17 email he’s for the high jump:
“Dear colleagues and friends,
“It is with mixed emotions that I am sending out this short message.
“After more than three very busy years at the Conference of Defence Associations and at the Institute of the CDA, I have decided for both personal and professional reasons to step down as Chief Executive Officer as soon as a successor has been found and a transition completed. This was not an easy decision, but one that I believe is the rightone [sic] now.”
Sadly, news of the next exciting chapter in Tony’s career came there none, prompting speculation that his abrupt departure was less than voluntary.
Consider, after all, that since his ascension as CEO in 2014, the rebarbative ex-military flatfoot seldom missed an opportunity to alienate Institute staff, supporters and random bystanders.
The CDA, for those keeping score at home, is a “non-partisan” clutch of military old boys, which plumps for fatter military budgets and reliably hypes procurement boondoggles like the F-35, long after lesser shills succumb to attacks of shame and/or sticker shock. The enrichment of defence contractors and lobbyists, themselves military old boys, is merely a happy side effect of these efforts.
The Institute is perhaps best known for its logrolling Ross Munro Media Award for conspicuous credulity and patriotism in covering defence issues. Winners of the statuette, and $2,000 sweetener, include such braünnosers as Postmedia cheerleader-at-XXXL, Matt Fisher, who can always be relied upon to quote CDA blowhards with predictable deference.
Among the first changes Battista made was the cancellation of all free space at the CDA’s annual conference, where wrinklies like the Merchant Marines Veterans Association had previously been permitted set up a table in the hallway for free to pass out pamphlets and pins. That ended in the Age of Battista, and now anyone who wants to hang out a shingle must cough up the $2,000 exhibitors’ fee.
Retired Lt-Col. Fran Chilton-Mackay, the peripatetic military band leader and tireless organizer of events for the army, who’d been volunteering her talents for CDA happenings for years, soon wearied of Battista’s bullshit and quit right in the middle of the Institute’s 2015 Vimy Award Dinner.
And it was with much mirth that long-suffering CDA sluggos read Tony’s heartfelt parting words to the team:
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with two sister organizations at a time of significant challenge and change, and I am immensely proud to have served with a small – but mightily dedicated – staff and many volunteers who gave so much of their time, talent and energy to deliver the very best program possible. I am convinced that their unselfish dedication has made all of us wiser, the Security and Defence sector more credible, and Canada a better place! Harkening to the words of Winston Churchill: Never has so much been done by so few for so many!”
One does hope someone forwarded Tony’s kind words to Denise Lemay, former program manager at the CDA, who went on stress leave last October, was walked off the plank in absentia in December, and filled a $100K+ wrongful dismissal suit in January.
In her claim, pressed by employment legalist Jean-Francois Lalonde (Vice & Hunter), Lemay alleged her stress leave was a result of — pas possible! — “harassment and bullying by the CEO of the CDA Institute, Mr. Tony Battista.”
She sued for six months’ salary ($26,250), plus $50,000 in “punitive and/or aggravated damages,” unspecified expenses stemming from her termination, plus $30,000 under the Human Rights Code for “infringement, including but not limited to injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”
Because she was toasted while on stress leave, Lemay further alleged discrimination based on the prohibited grounds of disability (shurely ‘Putting up with Tony’s Shit Disorder’?!–ed.), bad faith, misrepresentation and on and expensively on.
The CDA rejected the allegations and the alligator, countering that Lemay had failed to follow Tony’s direction, gone over his head head to the CDA board, etc.
“The Plaintiff denies any insolent [sic] and/or insubordination. The plaintiff never received ‘informal coaching’ on her performance from the CEO of CDA, Tony Battista. Instead, the Plaintiff found herself in situations where Mr. Battista would belittle her, harshly criticize her and yell at her. On more than one occasion the Plaintiff was reduced to tears as a direct result of Mr. Battista’s inappropriate behaviour.”
“The Plaintiff was advised by the Board that they would speak to other employees and Mr. Battista about his behaviour. The Plaintiff was told she should expect an apology from Mr. Battista. Instead of an apology Mr. Battista chastised the Plaintiff and told all CDA employees that they were not to contact the Board directly.”
None of Lemay’s claims has yet seen a courtroom, but now that toxic Tony’s on the tumbrels, could an offer to settle the entire regrettable business be in the offing?