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March 10, 2017

At the risk of repeating myself

Watching the presentations on Bill 59 to the Law Amendments Committee is the surest way to get some clarity on the definition of disability. It would be hard to assemble a more thoughtful, articulate, smart and self-aware group anywhere. So why does the word "disability" get bandied about so easily?

Is Barry Abbott, the first presenter, disabled? He had a pioneering career at SMU, retired comfortably and contributed to his community through taxes and service. And he loves his gadgets.

How about Pat Gates, who has a record of consequential volunteering about a mile long, done on a shoestring budget? Her selflessness is an example to us all and puts others to shame.

Will Brewer, who is the very definition of Howard Gardner's Good Work, when excellence meets ethics?

Gerry Post? He works harder and more effectively than legions of bureaucrats. They miss him in the King of Jordan's p(a)lace, but we need him more in Halifax.

Paul Vienneau. Now there's a guy who can hardly fend for himself. Between shoveling, advocacy, music, art, fundraising he is clearly a burden on society.

Steve Estey? Probably the only person you'll ever meet who had a hand in writing a UN treaty.

Claredon Robicheau? The sage of Clare? Who brought rural transportation to Nova Scotia and saved the government millions?

There were people representing a different kind of disability. Their impairments were self-imposed - shortsightedness, indifference, ignorance.

I'm more convinced than ever that as long as the word "disability" appears in Bill 59, it goes wide of the mark. Call it "diversity" or "fairness" or "individual difference", but don't be so condescending as to call these extraordinary citizens "dis" anything.

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