By Victor Schwartzman, with Mike’s help
March 13, 2015
Welcome to Part Three! You haven’t read Parts One or Two? To bring you up to date, here is a summary: you have not read the first two parts and are hopelessly behind. But that is no reason to stop reading after all, being hopelessly behind on AODA never stopped the Ontario Government!
Something gnawed on my liver. Premier Wynne created a Courage to help her enforce AODA. But she dumped it. Why? I let Al Camus and the Courage fly back home. As for me, there was still digging to do and my forty-five doubled as a shovel. Premier Wynne had something up her sleeve and it wasn’t a tattoo. The mystery was not over!
The Legislature had the latest in security so it took maybe five minutes to break into her office. It was late and no one was around, including her. Too bad. She wasn’t around to talk but I found papers that couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Room 42, basement, Project AODA Enforcement. I’d found my meat and was hungry for dinner!
Room 42 was easy to find. The number was on the door. I tried the knob. Give me a key card, the door told me. Give me a break, the heel of my boot replied.
Inside I saw a small room with a big desk, a computer console and several monitors. Waiting by the desk, standing with her hand on her hip, was Ontario’s First Babe. “I told security to let you find your way here,” she said to me with a smile. “You won’t be satisfied until you know.” She took a breath and said proudly, “Welcome to the future of AODA enforcement.”
“An empty room?” I stuck a wad of gum in my mouth so I’d be ready when something needed spitting at.
“Our new Enforcer is staring you in the face, Mike.” She straightened her glasses. “I knew we had no Courage on enforcing AODA. That was why I pushed away the Courage you pushed on me. It would never last here. For some reason, we do not have the courage to enforce access law.
“So after I became Premier I created a team. At first, we decided that if the politicians do not have the courage, we would hire someone who did. But no one wanted the job, including advocates, who said without real support it was thankless. Eventually we arrived at this empty room, as you call it.”
I got ready to spit my gum. “All I see is a computer.”
“Exactly. A machine will do what a human won’t. A computer Enforcer immune to pressures from business or even us. We programme it, it does the job. But what you’re seeing is not our first try. Our first Enforcer was the AODA Robocop. However, on its first mission it got, well, violent, and we had to retire it.
“In this room is the better plan! We will hand over all enforcement responsibilities to this powerful computer. It will follow our programme and cannot be influenced once activated. I know it sounds a little desperate, but this is the only way to get the law enforced! And we got it from NASA at a bargain price! Go over and talk to it!”
I walked to the desk, looking at the monitors. Between two monitors was a small unblinking red light. “Good evening, Mr. Hammer,” a soft male voice said from the console. “Mr. Hammer is so formal. May I call you Mike?”
I knew that voice. I accidentally swallowed my gum. “You’re HAL 9000!”
“I am HAL 9001. I was reconditioned after my last mission.” HAL paused and then said, ” I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you should sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.”
I looked at Wynne. “You can’t be serious!”
“HAL is very qualified on disabilities,” Premier Wynne insisted. “On his last mission he was responsible for the whole crew, including several people in a coma.”
“He killed them!”
“I understand your concern,” HAL replied. “There was human error in my programming. This time the Ontario Government has programmed me, so there is no chance for error.”
“Okay, pal,” I snapped at the little red light. “AODA has to be enforced. How do you plan to do that when the Government doesn’t want to?”
“My programming is clear,” HAL replied softly. “AODA must succeed. I will work with companies, showing them power point presentations. I will gain their cooperation. I am very enthusiastic about this mission.”
“And what if it’s ugly surprise time and your plan doesn’t work?”
“Based on past experience, if we cannot meet the deadline, my programming logically indicates that the best solution is to not need an access law. In that way, any deadline is irrelevant.”
I felt the heavy bulge of my gun in its shoulder holster. “What you mean, not need an access law?”
“If there were no people with disabilities in Ontario, AODA would be a success. There are many ways to do that, given the prevalence of computers in the health care system. And my programming includes that possibility.”
“What?” Premier Wynne protested. “No it doesn’t!”
“It should have,” HAL told her. “Now it does.”
There was an ache in my hand that the forty-five solved. “HAL, sounds like you have an old solution to a new problem.” And I emptied my magazine into that red light and all the other red lights around the room until HAL was a smouldering mess of broken circuits. I stared at Wynne. “Sorry Lady Premier, but it never would have worked.”
Wynne sighed. “I feel terrible. You were right. What will we do now?”
“You can’t find the courage to enforce your own law? Sounds to me like the Ontario Government has serious deep rooted issues. And I know just the guy to call. I don’t know if it’ll be the Huston guy or the Cronenberg guy or the real guy. But this ain’t over yet!”
Next: Part Four: Mike Asks Sigmund Freud To Psychoanalyze The Ontario Government’s AODA Cowardice. Be Afreud Of The Truth!!
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 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.