Paul Caune is the executive director of CIVIL RIGHTS NOW!
By Paul Caune
If the public truly wants to help people with disabilities stop telling us how inspiring we are and start squeezing your MLAs to pass our version of the Americans with Disabilities Act in your province. I don’t know what compels seemingly well-intentioned people to praise people with disabilities as inspirational because of their athletic accomplishments, or for being object lessons teaching patience.
Such praise, like Pink Shirt Day, are useless gestures that waste everyone’s limited time, energy and money.
Who is being inspired? Is it is the persons who say they have been inspired by a voter with a disability? What has it inspired them to do? Anything practical to stop the injustices Canada has inflicted on citizens with disabilities for over 180 years?
It makes the person giving the praise get a warm and fuzzy, but increases the sting of the daily indignities people with disabilities get inflicted upon them by a smug and self-satisfied society.
Has all the inspiration caused by Terry Fox and Rick Hansen made, for example, ABA/IBI treatment for children with autism become a part of any province’s Medical Service Plan? Nope.
Has all the praise of Paralympians, and all the inspiration that they have given the public, resulted in the federal government making all its websites accessible to all Canadian citizens, regardless of disability? Goose egg.
Do politicians praise as inspirational those people with disabilities, or the members of their families, who are currently advocating by litigation or other means for practical reforms that would protect the freedom and dignity of people with disabilities, such as the BC families who brought the Auton case in favour of children with autism?
British Columbia takes endless pride in its being the home province of Terry Fox and Rick Hansen. When was the last time you heard a BC politician praise as inspirational the mothers who shut down the Woodlands school in New Westminster? These women actually did something great that served the public interest, but they are not held up as inspirational examples. In fact, they have been removed from history. As have the atrocities committed by government employees in BC’s institutions.
In BC, at the very same time every Liberal MLA was parading in pink shirts, the very same government is denying compensation to former residents of Woodlands for physical and sexual abuse inflicted on them by government employees.
There is nothing threatening about a Paralympian who has won a gold medal for our country. But certain special interests in our society find genuine advocates for people with disabilities extremely threatening. Because these special interests know they have done wrong and know they have lots to hide and a lot to lose.
Voters with disabilities don’t deserve a gold medal for getting out of bed in the morning. What voters with disabilities need is the support of citizens without disabilities to punish MPs and MLAs who deny freedom and dignity to voters with disabilities, and to put into power MPs and MLAs who will put into action ideas which will give voters with disabilities and their families the power to protect their freedom and dignity