I’ve only met Trevor Zinck once.
Back in 2007 when I was working on a story about the far too many children who fall through the cracks of our child welfare system and he was a fresh-faced NDP MLA, we both attended a meeting examining other, better child welfare models. Afterward, Zinck handed me his card, offered his assistance. He seemed earnest and genuinely concerned.
How to square that Trevor Zinck with the off-the-rails unnatural disaster he has become this past month?
The Trevor Zinck who allegedly played so fast and loose with his MLA expenses he got kicked out of the NDP caucus?
The Trevor Zinck who stands accused of running up a $10,000 gambling debt on the credit card of a disabled friend for whom he was once a caregiver?
The Trevor Zinck who now blames everyone else for his troubles?
The simple, and most likely, answer is Zinck’s “problems” with alcohol and gambling — which he has publicly acknowledged in an offhanded way but has clearly not yet accepted as serious, or seemingly done anything to deal with — have warped his political and personal judgments.
Without getting all Dr. Phil, it seems obvious Trevor Zinck is in denial.
When he got kicked out of the caucus, for example, Zinck dismissed concerns about his own alleged failure to pay routine bills for which he’d already been reimbursed. If there had been a problem, he argued, it was just bookkeeping. And he’d taken care of it.
He lashed out at Darrell Dexter, accusing the premier of plotting to oust him to scare other unidentified NDP MLAs from voting against the government’s upcoming budget. And he claimed House Speaker Charlie Parker’s decision to ask the auditor general to look into his expenses was partisan and “unparliamentary.”
When his former friend reluctantly went public about Zinck’s alleged failure to repay the credit card debt, Zinck claimed the NDP put the man’s family up to it. The family denied the allegation.
Zinck’s most recent claim that all these unlikely conspiracies are somehow intended to undermine what he claims is widespread public support for him among his constituents appears — to be generous — delusional.
In the end, there are two issues here.
The first, of course, is the public issue of Trevor Zinck’s ability — and legitimacy — to continue as an MLA. Let’s leave that for today.
The larger, sadder and more human issue is that Trevor Zinck needs help. The tragedy is that he still doesn’t — or won’t — recognize just how much. Let’s hope, for his sake, that that changes. Before it’s too late.