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November 5, 2015

The Parallax View



par·al·lax

n.
A change in the apparent position of an object relative to more distant objects, caused by a change in the observer's line of sight towards the object.

I've been very critical of The Federal Government's foot dragging on a range of issues facing people with disabilities.  So I was nearly blown away by yesterday's list of cabinet appointments.  The idea that there is now a Ministry of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is a very good sign and should be the new beginning we have sought for so long.

The long list of cabinet members shows a willingness to rethink government that well might restore Canada's reputation for fairness and equality.  We will all be watching carefully (and critically), but change is in the air and we're hopeful.

The name 'Sport and Persons with Disabilities' reflects a basic tension.  I like the association and feel strongly that sport has provided one of the few opportunities for excellence.  But therein lies the heart of the issue - are limitations inherent or caused by arbitrary barriers?  Should government be thinking about my disability or the barriers that cause it?  So 'Sport and Access' or 'Sport and Equality' would have been more to my liking, but a distinction without a difference for most people.

In any case, the full realization of equality will take the participation of many ministries - Labour, Justice, Transport, Health, and others.

Carla Qualtrough, the new minister, surely gets it.  I'm not a big fan of BC's accessibility efforts - accessibility is a matter of right, not subject to negotiation - and their timeline is ridiculously long. But Qualtrough has the right credentials and if Trudeau follows through on his promises, the stage is set.

Trudeau's answer to the question "Why gender balance in cabinet?", "Because it's 2015" says it all in seven syllables.

Canada has compared badly with the US in the area of disability rights, but now that we've got:

  • A Sikh Minister of Defense
  • A  First Canadian Justice Minister 
  • A  gay President of Treasury Board
  • A Sikh Minister of Economic development
  • An astronaut(!) Transport Minister
  • A wheelchair-using Minister of Veteran's Affairs
  • An Afghan-born Minister of Democratic Institutions
  • A scientist Minister of Science
  • A Paralympian Minister of Sport and Disability
  • A thing called the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change
  • And other breathtaking choices

we've shown the world what Canada is and wants to be.  Expectations are high.

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