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AODA – The Government’s Albatross

Or The 2014 AODA Implementation Report
By Victor Schwartzman and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
December 9, 2014

I, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, have been summoned to write the AODA 2014 Year End Review. I was asked because the AODA story is identical to that of the creation of my famous poem, Kubla Khan. Why? Because, similar to the Ontario Government’s implementation of AODA, my tale is also one of fraud and deception and failure to get the job done.

What I told everyone about Kubla Khan was that alone in a cottage in 1797 I got loaded on laudanum. While intoxicated, I saw wonderful imagery. I woke from my dream-like state or, if you will, stupor. Excited, I started to write my visions but was fatally interrupted by a knock on the door. It was a man from Proctor who proved difficult to get rid of. When I returned to my desk, the inspiration had dispersed like smoke from a roaring fire.

I wrote the poem in 1797. I did not publish it until 1817. It was hailed and the man from Proctor demonized as the enemy of creativity. The truth, dear reader? I did get plowed on laudanum. I did then take pen to paper, but I had no idea what I was writing. Honestly, I still don’t know what Kubla Khan means. There never was a man from Proctor. There was no interruption. The poem was never finished because it was a fraudulent inspiration created by drugs.

I knew I had something terrific in Kubla Khan and desperately tried to finish it. Over twenty years I took laudanum many times but never recaptured that wild dream. I finally gave up and published it in 1817. I believe it was not a problem with my own creativity, but with the particular brand of laudanum I imbibed. Without the right drug, I was lost. Like Dr. Jekyll I never again found the right mix of drugs to again turn myself into a literary Mr. Hyde. Bob says hello, by the way.

Worse, when I was sober and reread other poems I had written while pickled, I was embarrassed. Kubla Khan is the only poem I ever wrote under the influence which I allowed published. I got away with it because of the dream imagery. The other poems, unless you also had taken laudanum you would not enjoy them. I had to throw them all away. For example, there was a happy version of Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, where the albatross was a good luck fairy.

Which brings me to the 2014 Year End Update on AODA.

As with Kubla Khan, for politicians AODA originally was fueled by a drug positive attention, without having to do anything. For years the Government enjoyed support through community consultations and when it created legislation. But after proclamation, the Government’s man from Proctor knocked on its Queen’s Park door.

I did not tell readers the true story of how I created my poem. Neither did the Government tell the story of why AODA was created. I did no further effective work on it, neither did the Government. I was not honest about the problem, neither was the Government. Ironically, AODA became the Government’s albatross.

The 2014 update sounds like any year from the past ten. Nothing of consequence actually occurred. During 2014, a new Minister was appointed (that has happened most years.) He could have announced penalties against businesses which have not complied with the law. He did not. He could have expressed concerns about failed implementation over ten years, but instead said it was still early, referring to the ultimate access deadline and not apparently understanding the need for access now. He was a new man with the same old.

In Ontario did many Premiers
A stately access law decree:
Because Alph, the sacred river, would
wash reality to caverns far away
By implementation measureless
Down to a sunless misery.

Next: Take This Column To School For Extra Credit! Next Week, The Cole’s Notes AODA!

Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly column to Accessibility News. Buy the first nine chapters of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for .99 on Kindle at http://www.amazon.ca/King-The-Planet-Victor-Schwartzman-ebook/dp/B00NE0CCRC or read the earlier drafts and current chapters for free, on the King Of The Planet Facebook page. It has a “4 out of 5 star” review already!

His graphic novel The Winnipeg Weakly Herald (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He also contributes to http://www.targetaudiencemagazine.com. He has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and hosts two writers’ circles. His email is vschwartzman@gmail.com.