Edmonton Sun COLUMN l

The mess some of our elected officials have strewn over the hallowed floor of the House of Commons in Ottawa will spread to Canadian villages, towns and cities with ramifications sprawling from Vancouver Island to Cape Spear.

Canadian with disabilities have been shunned  by all three levels of government before. It is, sadly, part of living with disabilities — not only In Canada but internationally.

But this … this is appalling and unacceptable.

Last week’s sideshow — and, that’s overly kind — when the Conservatives and New Democrats callously disallowed debate on a bill to help Canadians with disabilities is a shameful denial of the very purpose of any government: to help its citizens.

To his credit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a payment of $600 for every Canadian with a disability to help navigate folks through the COVID-19 pandemic.

It showed hope. More importantly, it sent a gentle and reassuring message to Canadians with disabilities the feds do care and want to help.

One has to seriously point to the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group appointed in April, and wonder if they are the lightning rod behind the prime minister’s announcement. The advisory group is an elite list of some of the most compassionate and out-of-the-box thinkers among Canadians with disabilities, including Dr. Heidi Janz of Edmonton.

It showed the politicians — not bureaucrats — grasped a time sensitive issue and not only talked about it … but acted and did something helpful.

To have Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and the ND’s Jagmeet Singh not even agreeing to discuss the bill lacks social responsibility. It was a lame game of political football with both parties guilty of being offside and objectionable conduct.

I live with a disability. COVID-19 has presented challenges and hardships.

If you cannot go to your government in trying times, where do you go?

Charities are struggling — as are corporations. As much as they want to help, they simply cannot.

And for Canadians with disabilities — most of whom live just a sliver above the poverty line — to see some politicians turn and walk the other way is most discouraging.

As much as it personally pains me to write this I must something I have never penned before. I will write it because I now believe it.
Canadians with disabilities do not matter.

The issue, merciless, gets even more dire. With our federal government’s position of not debating a bill which would be of great help, what kind of message does that send to Canadians?

It is is poison of epic proportions. It severely jeopardizes future public awareness of Canadians with disabilities. All of the work done by Canadians with disabilities to put us all in the situations we are, could be instantly erased.

Damage will have been done. And the danger of Canadians with disabilities not being taken seriously and heard is a reality, frankly, I thought I would never see.

Nations are judged by the way they care for their people, especially during a global crisis.

Canada has failed a significant segment of the population which defies logic.

But Mr. Scheer and Mr. Singh obviously do not appreciate, nor respect, the mental toughness and perseverance of Canadians with disabilities. We have often — privately and as in lobby groups — used three words spoken, ironically, another Trudeau family member declared decades ago during the FLQ crisis.

“Just watch me.”


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