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Be Warned: The Weakest Column Yet

By Victor Schwartzman
April 13, 2015

Shed no tears for me but today’s column was difficult to write.

That is not because it is yet another column about nothing happening with AODA. Well it is, but not. Most of these columns are about nothing happening with AODA, but this column is even more about nothing than usual. That is because this column is about the Ontario Government’s response to the second independent reviewer’s report on AODA.

The AODA access legislation requires periodic reviews on the Government’s performance implementing it. Ontario’s implementation was criticized by Charles Beer in the first independent reviewer’s report five years ago. The second report, by Mayo Moran, was completed and presented to the Ontario Government in November, 2014. It voiced similar concerns, making recommendations for improvement.

The Mayo Report is the sort of thing to which the Government normally provides a detailed response. Or a summary response. Or at least an outline of response talking points. Yet almost half a year has passed with the Minister responsible for implementing AODA saying only that the report would be considered. No response on specific recommendations or when or if anything in the report would be implemented. It appears the report was destined for the back shelf before Moran wrote it.

But is that fair?

Minister Duguid is not only a politician. He is a person. He has a family, probably a dog. As a human being, he is aware of what is at stake for the 1.8 million Ontarians who have a disability. This not some local zoning issue. He knows it is important. Therefore, he must have a reason for not responding.

Wracking my brain, I arrived at ten possible explanations Minister Duguid could provide, provided he believed the public deserved an answer. This feels weaker than usual, but I’m writing about Minister Duguid. So here goes.

TEN POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS FROM MINISTER DUGUID ON WHY HE HAS NOT IMPLEMENTED THE MORAN REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS:

10. “No time. I was carried away binge watching House Of Cards on Netflix. I could be Frank Underwood, at least my colleagues say so.”

9. “Don’t like mayo, prefer ketchup.”

8. “Report? What report?”

7. “I’m reading it on Twitter, tweet by tweet. I expect to finish it in January, 2023.”

6. “I’ve decided to wait for the movie and hope it’s in 3D!”

5. “I’d have to care.”

4. “I haven’t even read the Beer report yet. I have to catch up. I like catchup, it adds flavour to everything.”

3. “I don’t want to respond and no law says I have to.”

2. “I tried reading it but there weren’t enough pictures.”

As I look back on my writing in this column so far, I feel shame.

The writing is weak. There is a bad “mayo” pun and worse ketchup jokes. No really good laughs. Flimsy! And it’s the same point, over and over. There’s even a free ad for Netflix. A fair bit of work went into writing this column. Even mediocre writing takes sweat. Yet, in the end, so far it feels barely “okay.” There are hills and valleys when writing a steady column, welcome to a valley.

The Government is responsible for this weak column, not me.

Normally, a writer has material. A Government in such a situation makes a speech or two, presents a white paper. There would be a meeting with Moran and a photo op. In this situation, however, the Government barely bothers to be polite. As a writer, it’s tough to grow a crop when you have no seeds.

Of course, Mayo Moran likely feels a lot worse than I. She did research! Also, not to make too fine a point of it, these columns could be seen as an ego exercise. Moran, however, was mandated to prepare a report with recommendations. Unlike my columns, her report was supposed to be taken seriously. People looked to the report and its recommendations because it could mean fundamental improvements to their lives.

Which brings me to the Number One Explanation Minister Duguid might make on why he has not responded adequately to the Moran Report:

1. “I haven’t implemented AODA so why should I implement a report about implementing AODA? I mean, seriously?”

Next: The Peter Principle And Minister Duguid

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 whole thing, including current polished chapters, for free on the King Of The Planet Facebook page. It has a “4 out of 5 star” review!

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 has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and volunteers as host of a writers’ circle at a drop-in. His email is vschwartzman@gmail.com.