The Power of a Mother’s Love – Charles Adler

Ladies and Gentlemen

I want to you talk to you today about some intensely personal things. I owe it to you tell you these things because you trust me with your heads and your hearts every day, and some of you have been trusting me for more than 30 years. I first came to Winnipeg in the summer of 1983. That’s more than 30 years ago. Yes there is a nine year gap there. Just before Christmas of 1989 I left Winnipeg for Calgary and Tampa and Boston and Toronto and back here to Winnipeg in 1998. In those nine years I picked up some lint, came back a bit scruffier, a bit more aggressive for some of you, and yesterday not aggressive enough for some others.

Yesterday I gave an hour of our time, your time, to the mother of a murder victim named Chad Davis. And some of you feel disappointed with me because I didn’t and don’t refer to her as the mother of cocaine dealer, and I didn’t dwell on what cocaine dealing is all about and it’s consequences, and I didn’t scold her for not being tougher on her young son earlier in his development, and that I didn’t tell her that her son got what he deserved when two of the the men who were his clients and owed him decided instead to murder him and make him disappear for a while at the bottom of the Lee River. But these men weren’t professional killers, and professional cover up artists and so the barrel surfaced six months later, and and six years later last week in a Winnipeg court, those two men were convicted of first degree murder and so they will after sentencing be spending the next twenty five years in a barrel called the penitentiary.

It’s clear to me that I disappointed some of you because you wanted me to do to this mother what the defence lawyers tried to do to her and her dead son in court. Because they had no grounds for the defence of their killer clients, they went on offence and tried to convict the dead man of his own murder and they try to convict the dead man’s mother for not doing more to to try to prevent him from becoming a dealer. If it wasn’t for the way the cocaine dealer was parented and it wasn’t for the cocaine dealer’s chosen occupation, there would have been no trial. Some of you are disappointed in me because you wanted me to do on radio what the lawyers were not successful in doing in a Winnipeg court. You wanted me to convict Chad Davis and his mother. And some of you feel that instead of convicting her I was coddling her.

Folks I didn’t bring Lori Davis on the air to break her already broken heart. Yes I could have done that. She trusted me to spend an hour with me on Live Radio. I could have taken advantage of that opportunity to tell her what I think of cocaine dealers, what I think of people who enable their kids to continue to do drugs or even sell drugs by hiring expensive lawyers who out gun the cops and the crown by attacking the search warrant, attacking the police report, attacking the witnesses, and in the end attacking justice itself by creating just enough reasonable doubt to make the guilty innocent, giving the guilty a chance to continue to practise his drug trade. I could have brought all my thoughts and feelings about this and thrown everything I know and feel about this wretched business called the drug trade at my guest. It would have been easier than shooting fish in a barrel. And I am sure that those of you who are disappointed in what you think of as a coddle would have wanted to swaddle me in your blanket of affection for a host who knows how to be tougher than a sledge hammer when he chooses to be.

But yesterday I had a choice. I could break her heart or hear her heart. And I chose the latter. And I want to make this promise to the disappointed ones. I will never choose to re-break the broken heart of the mother of a murder victim. No matter what that murder victim did before becoming a victim. And if you want to convict me of cowardice because I choose not to do what defence lawyers do on a regular basis, go ahead and convict me. There is something I believe in very deeply, something I cherish more than anything else and it is the awesome power of a mother’s love. I don’t convict mothers for loving their children. And I don’t convict their dead children. Not because I don’t know how to do it. But because I have contempt for those who do it and if I do what I find contemptible, I will have contempt for myself and that could very well turn me into some other cocaine dealer’s customer. There was a time in my life where I did things which I am not proud of which I could call contemptible. And I self-medicated in order to deal with the self loathing that is the product of having a conscience and doing the unconscionable.

I believe in the power of a mother’s love and Lori Davis if you’re listening, I want you to know that you are welcome in my studio any time and you can come without fear of being judged unworthy. I said at the beginning of this visit with you that I want to reveal some intensely personal things, and so it’s time for me to keep my promise. For many years I have been telling you about how I got to this country I love so much, this country that has been so good to me. And I never feel that I can do enough to give back to the Canadian people who have given me so much. I came here as a refugee from a country where human rights meant nothing, a police state which is what Communist Hungary was at the time. In the popular uprising that took place in 1956 there was a narrow window of opportunity for people to leave the country to run for their lives before the country’s borders got sealed again by some puppet regime installed by Vladimir Putin’s Soviet Union. I’m never going to put the boots to the mother of a murder victim. But I won’t lie to you. I would love to have fifteen minutes with Vladimir KGB Putin.

In 1956 during that tight window of opportunity as I told you in the past, my father carried me, his two year old son out of Communist occupied Hungary in a back pack. What I never told you before is who put me in that back pack and who motivated my father and perhaps even threatened my father into taking a risk for freedom. That person was my mother. She loathed the Communists. She loathed everything about them. It won’t surprise you that in the fight between Ukraine and Putin, I root for Ukraine every minutes of every day every day every day. My mother wanted her baby son to have a chance to live as a free man in a free country. My mother did not want me to grow up under the boot of a regime where I would be forced to suck up to authority, to lie about my heritage, to rat out my friends, to offer my allegiance to a regime that shut down my grandmother’s little store because they didn’t believe that individual human beings were worthy of owning private property, owning their own homes or their own stores. My father was not happy to be living under Communist rule but like more than 9 out of 10 Hungarians who stayed in Hungary, he preferred the devil he knew to whatever risks were out there in a different part of the world where the language would be foreign, where he might have a tough time finding work, and he was afraid that he and my mother and the baby in the back pack might be captured and executed by the Putin People. My mother told my father that if he chose not take a risk to make a run for it, that she would do it on her own, that she would strap me to her back and take me to a new world. My father knew that my mother played for keeps. He knew that when she had her mind made up, there was no point in offering resistance. And so in the fall of 1956, we made our way to the Austrian border, made our way to Vienna where we were given temporary sanctuary where we waited and waited and waited for a country to give us a chance at a free life. The country that said Yes to my family is this one. Thank you Canada. I love you Canada, and I love you mom for giving Pop the encouragement and strength to join us on the greatest adventure of our lives.

The next time any of you expects me to trash a mother for loving her son, please remember this story. And for every mother in our audience today, thank you for being a mom.

My name is Charles. I am the son of Rose Adler.