By Paul Caune
After very little soul-searching, I’ve decided to collaborate with the BC Government. Frequently, I have heard BC government officials and disability activists claim their collaborative relationships are more fertile than a polygamous marriage in Bountiful.
My pals in the disability advocacy industry are always bugging me to be more diplomatic and less evidence-based when I talk with bureaucrats and MLAs. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar they advise me. Perhaps I’m in a drunken stupor from too much rum in my eggnog, but let’s give it a shot!
As readers of my column will know, of late I’ve made a few evidence-based and balanced criticisms of the BC government’s plan to make Lotus Land the most progressive place for people with disabilities in Canada. To that end the BC Government has arranged a forum with putative leaders of “the disability community” on Jan. 15 at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver.
To clarify: the BC Government wants an “open discussion” with the “leaders” of “the disability community,” but this intention appears no where on its website. Instead it gave the BC Coalition of People With Disabilities (BCCPD) the discretion to decide who are the “leaders” of the disability community.
On Dec. 11 the BCCPD emailed an invitation to the Jan. 15 “open” discussion, addressed “Dear Community Partner,” “to a broad range of groups and individuals across Metro Vancouver.” Civil Rights Now was not included in this “broad range.” (Are there no disability leaders outside of Metro Vancouver?)
On Dec. 16 the BCCPD posted the invitation on their blog.
On Dec. 18 the BCCPD posted on their Facebook page an announcement—which included a link to the invitation on their website—restricting participation in the forum to only two people from each organization.
The BCCPD included the invitation in their electronic newsletter, which was tweeted to their over 2,000 Twitter followers on Dec. 20.
Everyone I have spoken with who is wise in the ways of the world is disparaging and fatalistic as to the worth of this cluster-consultation. But it is the end of the year. It is a time for new beginnings. “There will be growth in the spring,” to quote Chance the Gardener from the film Being There.
I have decided to make a New Year’s Resolution to collaborate with the BC Government. Everyone else is doing it. Why stand alone? Why not collaborate? Why not waste my precious time with the people going through this soul-destroying charade? As the proverb sayeth: misery loves company.
Unlike some of my pals, I do not seek any BC Government funding. Civil Rights Now is forbidden by its constitution to accept government funding.
But I can be bought: get me photographs with ministers, bling, a few glasses of Sex on the Beach and I’ll be singing in the chorus faster that you can say, “World Class.”
Wait a minute, Paul (I hear you exclaim with exasperation): are you not being a wee bit cynical? Are you not ruining the fun for everyone else? This is serious stuff. You are not taking a very serious matter seriously enough.
To answer those questions properly would involve thinking, and ever since I agreed to collaborate I’ve stopped thinking.
No, instead, I’m going to lean back in my wheelchair and practice my “I’m listening with rapt attention” expression.
I promise not to ask anybody embarrassing questions at the disability leaders’ forum.
Oh, didn’t I mention that I am going to the leaders’ forum?
When I found out that the BCCPD had not invited me to the forum, I took the only sensible course of action: I invited myself. Pushy? No: collaborative! It’s fun to be a team player!
If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.
And after all, life – like many Health Authority risk managers – is nasty, brutish and short. Sometimes collaboration has its benefits. For example, I am sure there will be a buffet at the forum.
Paul Caune is the Executive Director of CIVIL RIGHTS NOW! Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through CRN’s website