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Pollyanna and Kafka Debate The B.C. Accessibility Summit

By Victor Schwartzman, with Pollyanna and Franz Kafka
August 11, 2014

POLLYANNA: I volunteered for this because Premier Christy Clarke is so like me. We both have sunny personalities. We both are can-do people. And we both do not like public school very much (although perhaps for different reasons, although I expect we both do not like tests!)

KAFKA: Why is anyone reading this when there is no point?

POLLYANNA: On June 16 the British Columbia Government held the Accessibility Summit. Premier Clarke committed her Government to passing new “legislation that will improve access for persons with disabilities.” She has not said anything since about that new legislation, but I’m sure she meant every word. That was followed up at the Summit by Minister of Social Development Don McRae quoting Rick Hansen about the need for an inclusive society. Hansen has called for “smart legislation” on access that is clear and accountable.

KAFKA: Here is what I saw at the Summit. Premier Clarke and Minister McRae opened their mouths and out flew puffs of smoke which impressed the audience, united in clouds on the ceiling and eventually disappeared without a trace. The audience was entertained and left with a warm glow until they went outside into reality.

POLLYANNA: With Government, reality isn’t the point. Franz, you of all people should know that! Premier Clarke is talking about something unreal: the future! She made a commitment to access legislation and these days that means only one thing.

KAFKA: More waiting? How many sugary caffeinated beverages have you drunk today, Pollyanna?

POLLYANNA: Only twelve. No, she means repeating AODA from Ontario. That access legislation was proclaimed in 2005. A few years later, Manitoba began work on such a law, then Nova Scotia starting thinking about one. The new laws could mean access everywhere and in every way! And now B.C. has joined the Accessibility Bandwagon! That is cause to celebrate!

KAFKA: Why pass a new law when the old laws could do the same thing?

POLLYANNA: Because when the Government would not make those laws work, the community decided the Government needed a new law only about access!

KAFKA: If the Government would not enforce the old laws, why would it enforce a new one?

POLLYANNA: What a good question! Oh Franz, you are so smart and always thinking. That is what I enjoy so much about you! But why so negative?

KAFKA: It keeps me from being disappointed. Has anyone ever told you that you are irritating?

POLLYANNA: A law only about access focusses attention on the issue! It helps move access along! Human rights complaints only affect individuals! This will affect everyone!

KAFKA: If that was true why so many exclamation points?

POLLYANNA: Because I’m cheery! So is Premier Clarke! She has hardly ever lied to voters and then only when she thought they really deserved it. Or to win an election. There is no way she would propose a law only to appear to be doing something. That would require thinking ahead.

KAFKA: You have a point.

POLLYANNA: Yeah! C’mon! Golly! Do you really think all four Provinces would be talking about this if they weren’t serious?

KAFKA: Yes. Are you always like this?

POLLYANNA: But Premier Clarke mentioned it once, so she will mention it again!

KAFKA: Exactly. And that is all they are doing. She has already linked disability pension improvements to selling Liquid Natural Gas to countries less flatulent than ours. If she will not improve pensions, which have been on hold since 2007, it is difficult to see her spending a penny on access improvements.

POLLYANNA: Give me a moment to find something glad about what you said.

KAFKA: Ontario passed AODA almost ten years ago and the Government still only talks. Including the public consultation process, the new law there has successfully delayed real progress in access by over a decade.

POLLYANNA: Glad game! Glad game! By involving people in the consultation process and then betraying them, many more people were involved in access issues. A consensus is now building.

KAFKA: The consensus built in Ontario is that the business community can successfully ignore the law and the Government can ignore the community.

POLLYANNA: So you see I am right, there is a consensus!

KAFKA: I hope that tomorrow morning you wake up as a cockroach.

Next: Almost Certainly Not AODA II: The Summer Blockbuster Sequel!

Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. Read his current novel, serialized on his Facebook page one chapter a week (King of the Planet is a novel where Gulliver’s Travels meets Star Wars.) 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 but if he wanted to hear from you he would have emailed you.