by Victor Schwartzman
February 19, 2015
It is painfully true that you have not heard lately from your presumably treasured correspondent. There were reasons, including neck arthritis, dropping car keys in my eye, having that horrible flu going around, which gave me an eye infection. And then there was the trip to Florida. Mostly it was warm and friendly but the occasional bumper sticker threw me off (in particular, the one showing an American flag, with below it Fear This. I was more afraid of the person driving the car.) So, no columns the last few weeks.
But there was another reason this writer has not written. Burn out! For almost two years I have written every week about the Ontario Government doing nothing to implement AODA. I dont even live in Ontario! Frankly, it is depressing writing about nothing, week after week. True, it is more depressing to live in Ontario and have a disability.
Remarkably, while I was away struggling to refresh my batteries, which it turns out were not very rechargeable which is why my wife probably tells me to get the lead out, someone stepped into the nothing breach.
Bless her heart, Dean Moran took some pieces of paper and slathered on some mayo (how many times has she heard that poor joke?) to create a tasty sandwich: the second independent review of AODA implementation. The Government did not want the review and delayed appointing a reviewer. Mayo Morans report demonstrates why.
In the ten years since AODA was proclaimed, Morans review found that nothing much had been accomplished.
What little has been accomplished is confusing and needs to be revised. The Government has failed to show leadership and time is running out. Each Government Department should now make accessibility a priority (which was predicted for 2015 by Nostradamus, here in this column!)
Her report, which echoed concerns made at the outset of AODA implementation by Charles Beer in the first independent review, was welcomed by AODA advocates. The Governments response (it sat on the report over two months) was surreal. Minister Brad Duguid issued a statement: I recognize that there is always more work to do, and we are already moving forward on a number of Provost Morans recommendations Over the coming months, I look forward to making further announcements in response to this review and to continuing our discussions with experts, persons with disabilities and the business community.
Always more work to do? Mayo found that, in ten years, virtually nothing had been accomplished. Is the Government moving forward on a number of Morans recommendations? If so, which ones? Is it supposed to be a mystery? And, over the next few months (he doesnt say how many) the Ministers bold new plan for AODA implementation is tomake more announcements?
Surreal! This journalist, on returning from Florida, was committed to understanding why Minister Duguid had chosen the surreal route in explaining his plans to implement AODA.
I have decided to approach AODA implementation by channeling Salvador Dali, Duguid could have told this journalist if they had ever met. I was leafing through a magazine the other day and saw his painting of drooping clocks and immediately thought of AODA implementation. It was an inspiration! Nobody understands Dali, just like I plan to have nobody understand how Ill implement AODA!
Minister Duguid gave this journalist a tour of his office and showed off his own unfinished painting, which featured a diagram of AODA implementation. On the top were welcoming angels. At the bottom were Government officials scratching their heads. In the middle were a lot of blank spaces with numbers. Entitled My AODA, it was basically a paint-by-the numbers picture.
We had this chart ten years ago, Minister Duguid explained. The Ministers responsible had problems at the very beginning with using the right colours and painting within the lines, Minister Duguid explained. They tried but never got it right. And now here we are. Im not very good at painting within the lines, either. I hope to avoid previous problems by having the borders in each box much larger. And by only using one colour. We are having meetings right now to decide on the colour. Personally I prefer paisley.
The journalist noted paisley is not a colour. Minister Duguid smiled. No, but its surreal, and that makes you think. I like the surreal approach. We use it in our speeches all the time. That Dali was a master! Indeed, the painting resembled the actions and statements of many Ministers responsible for AODA over the years: it contained many dead ends, incomplete threads and a whole lot of Dali-esque drooping. Based on the interview, one should expect continued surreal approaches to AODA implementation in the future.
And again: thank you to Mayo Moran for her honest report and for giving this writer a break by temporarily continuing the proud tradition of writing that the Government is doing nothing to implement AODA. How about a second report??
Next: Perhaps it is time for AODA 2: The Sequel
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.