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July 24, 2015

Wheelchair Pride, Same-Sex Rights

This is Halifax Pride week.  Coincidentally, it's the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I've long admired the speed with which the LGBTQ+ community has reached its goals.  I'm jealous.

It's interesting to consider the mirrored trajectory of these superficially similar social movements in Canada and the US:

  • In the US, same-sex marriage just became universally available last month
  • In Canada, it's been around since July 20, 2005
  • In the US, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has not been ratified, even though it is clearly modeled after the ADA
  • In Canada, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been ratified but not implemented
  • In the US, Josh Cassidy, a Canadian, set the world's record in the wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon
  • In Canada, there is no wheelchair division in the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon
  • In Canada,  the federal government uses a shredding facility that pays people with intellectual disabilities $1.15/hour
  • In the US, President Obama signed an executive order mandating minimum wage for any federal contract, including sheltered workshops 
I'm not enough of a social scientist to make complete sense of these incongruities, but this paragraph from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing webpage hints at something:
From (a) cornerstone principle of shared destiny and collective action, a number of core consensus values informed the development of the CIW: fairness, diversity, equity, inclusion, health, safety, economic security, democracy, and sustainability.
and here are 9 core American Values identified by Robin Williams (not that one) in 1970 that hint at something else:
  1. Equal Opportunity
  2. Achievement and Success
  3. Material Comfort
  4. Activity and Work
  5. Practicality and Efficiency
  6. Progress
  7. Science
  8. Democracy and Enterprise
  9. Freedom
Two competing ideals seem to be at work:

  • Independence vs Inclusion
  • Equal opportunity vs Equal Outcome

You can see how the Canadian values might favor Pride and American values might favor Rights.

Please share your thoughts by commenting.

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