Marie Henein is smart; she is strong; she is successful; she is a confirmed feminist; she has a great sense of humour. What more could any woman wish for? For those BoomerBroadcast readers who do not recognize the name Marie Henein, she was the lawyer who successfully defended CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi on charges of sexual assault a few years ago. This was just one of several high-profile cases she has defended. I first wrote about her in May 2019, If I’m Ever In Trouble With The Law, I Want Marie Henein On My Case.
I have to confess that I’ve been a fan of Henein right from the first time I saw her on the evening news accompanying Gomeshi to court. With her stylish, good looks, I thought she was Ghomeshi’s sister, not his defence lawyer. That’s not to say I have or do not have an opinion on the not-guilty verdict she scored for her famous client; I’m simply an admirer of the woman. And, after reading her recently released memoir, Nothing But The Truth, I’m an even more ardent admirer. I could write a book about how much and why I loved her book.
Henein’s memoir is not about this famous case specifically but about her life in general which is far more interesting than her defence of Ghomeshi. It’s an articulate telling of the life of an immigrant to Canada, adjusting to the cultural differences, rising above adversity, and becoming a role model for Canadian women. It’s a feminist treatise. The differences between middle Eastern and Canadian culture were one of the most fascinating aspects of this book. It is incredibly interesting and educational for born-in-Canada women to learn more about the immigrant experience to help us understand their challenges.
Henein was born in Cairo to a Palestinian mother and Lebanese father. After leaving Egypt to avoid political persecution, the family arrived in Vancouver, then returned to Lebanon until further political upheaval caused them to leave again, this time immigrating to Toronto. When Henein started kindergarten she spoke no English. Coming from countries where women were not allowed out on their own without being accompanied by a husband or brother, her mother embraced the freedoms enjoyed by Canadian women and instilled in her daughter the importance of pursuing a life of financial independence from men. The message stuck.
As a voracious reader, I must admit to doing something I never do when I start a new book. I never skip ahead to the ending. But, as soon as I started Nothing But The Truth, I was so intrigued by the titles of her chapters, that I immediately skipped first to Chapter 12 Excuse My Dust. This is a particularly relatable chapter for boomer women as Henein describes her attitude and strategies for coping with ageing, specifically turning fifty.
In April of her big birthday year, she travelled to New York City with her husband to celebrate. She was not feeling well when left and it turned out she was suffering the effects of a pulmonary embolism. Here is a woman we can all appreciate and admire. Before she was taken to the airport to fly home to a Canadian hospital, she insisted on visiting Bergdorf-Goodman. “I needed to shop.”
Despite excruciating pain, she managed to buy a new suit before finally capitulating in the shoe department and heading to the airport. In her own words, “I mean, if you’ve got to go, it’s as good a place as any” she writes, adding, “I think this is an entirely sensible final resting place. I’d like my ashes to be dispersed in the shoe department but only during the fall season because fall palettes work much better for me, even my ashes.”
That is when I knew for sure I was going to love this book and began reading, starting at Chapter One. I highlighted too many wise and wonderful comments in this book to even begin to share them with you. And, I would not want to deprive you of the total enjoyment I experienced reading Nothing But The Truth first hand. The name Jian Ghomeshi does not appear even once. Her defence rationale for any of her clients is clearly explained and is totally understandable. I learned something about how the law works in Canada without being bored by dramatic courtroom stories. I’d be shocked if you did not love this book. I certainly did.
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Two and a half years ago I posted my first piece about Heinen. Here it is in case you’re interested:
(May 14, 2019) If I’m ever in trouble with the law, I want Marie Henein on my case
Marie Henein is my kinda
gal broad lawyer. She’s the powerhouse who got former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi off on sexual assault charges. And, she’s in the news again leading Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s defence team. He’s the Canadian military bigwig who according to a Globe and Mail article by Janice Dickson on March 6, 2019, “was suspended as the military’s second-in-command on Jan. 16, 2017, and charged last year with breach of trust for allegedly leaking government secrets in an attempt to influence cabinet’s decision on a $700-million shipbuilding contract with Quebec’s Davie shipyard.” Yikes! Sounds serious. Not only did Henein get Norman off but the Canadian government must now reimburse him for his legal fees, which all but bankrupted him. Very impressive.
So who is the lady with the brass balls, killer dragon manicure and the coolest haircut ever? She’s someone I’d absolutely want to defend me if I’m ever in trouble with the law. So far I’ve managed to keep my nose clean for 70+years but things could change. If anyone ever finds out about those jelly beans I stole from the open bin in the Beamish store in my hometown when I was about six or seven years old, well, there could be trouble. Hopefully, that falls under the seven-year statute of limitations. Or that time in the seventies when I left one movie and immediately walked into another one in the adjacent theatre while only paying for one ticket. I know these crimes seem minor but they’re crimes nonetheless and I still bear the guilt. I’d like to know that Marie Henein would be there to plead my case.
There was a time when I could not understand why a brilliant lawyer and professed feminist would choose to represent unpopular defendants like Jian Ghomeshi, former Nova Scotia Premier Gerald Regan who was also charged with sexual misconduct, and former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant who was charged with criminal negligence causing death when a bike courier died as a result of a confrontation with Bryant. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial and legal representation. Some can just afford better representation than others and Henein is effective.
I once saw her interviewed on CTV’s The Social and was very impressed with her intelligence, her logic and her sense of humour. She also has a killer wardrobe and would be a formidable role model for any aspiring criminal lawyer, male or female. Ever since that two-movies-for-the-price-of-one incident, I’ve walked a pretty straight line when it comes to breaking the law. You’ll never catch me stepping a toe off the curb before the light turns green or not rinsing out my plastic and glass recycling before putting it into the bin.
When we were kids in school, we were told that Ontario’s official flower, the trillium, is a protected species and it’s illegal to pick them. Since then I’ve always been terrified of accidentally tramping on one during a walk in the woods in case there’s a policeman lurking behind the next tree ready to cuff me and lock me up. My fear of the law runs deep. It’s trillium season now so be very, very careful. Don’t cheat on your taxes; don’t text and drive, and do not under any circumstances park in the handicapped spot while you “just nip in for a minute”.
But, if you do slip up, call Marie Henein. You can always start driving for Uber or have a yard sale to cover the cost. It’ll be worth it. And maybe she’ll give you the name of her hairdresser. I’m committed to being a good, law-abiding citizen but should I slip up and get caught for some unknown infraction, I’m for sure going to hire Marie Henein. I’m prepared to sell the house and get my husband a paper route whatever it takes to pay for her services. I’m too old to do hard-time in a cold institution with a high-carb diet and no access to HBO.