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March 12, 2010

Disabled Canadians allowed to Vote

Here is the article from CBC news.  The full text of the decision of Matthew Garfield of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is worth reading.  Garfield does not suffer the fools of Elections Canada gladly. 

CBC News
Elections Canada must make its polling sites accessible to people with disabilities, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal says.

The tribunal issued its ruling Friday, in response to a complaint from a physically disabled Toronto man who argued that voting sites should be accessible to everybody.
In March 2008, Peter Hughes arrived at a polling station at a church in the Toronto Centre riding to vote in a byelection. Hughes, who uses a walker to get around, told CBC News he was shocked to discover that the polling station was at the bottom of a long flight of stairs.
"I sat down on the edge of the stairs and I went down on the seat of my pants down to the bottom of the stairs while somebody carried my walker," he said.
When he complained to Elections Canada staff, they advised him to exit from a different door and walk up a snow-covered ramp.
"There was no way that a disabled person could easily get up that ramp," he said. "It was very difficult for me to struggle up the ramp in the middle of the snow."
The church was chosen as a polling station again for the general election in October 2008. After filing another complaint with Elections Canada, Hughes decided to go to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
In its ruling, the tribunal said Elections Canada must improve accessibility at voting sites across Canada, adding that Elections Canada should also try to improve its complaint system.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal holds hearings and makes legal decisions on whether a person or organization has engaged in a discriminatory practice. If one of the parties doesn't agree with the tribunal's ruling, they can file an appeal with the Federal Court of Canada.
On Friday, Elections Canada said it is reviewing the decision.

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