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The Magic Behind The Disappearing AODA Complaint Line

By Victor Schwartzman
April 20, 2015

One recent example of a terrific magic trick was the Ontario Government’s AODA Complaint Line being transformed into a Data Collection Resource. The Government’s trick is extra remarkable because it was performed while millions watched! Today’s column will go behind the scenes to explain how the Government performed this feat.

What is the AODA Complaint Line? Two years ago, the Ontario Government committed to creating a free telephone line which citizens could use to report violations of access law. Last year, Premier Wynne again promised such a line. In February of this year, as reported in the Toronto Star by Laurie Monsebraaten, the Government finally announced the creation of the free phone line: 1-866-515-2025.

The Star article quoted a Government spokesperson, who said that the new line followed Moran Report recommendations. Callers to the line could lodge complaints that access law had been violated. However, he did not mention that the new line was actually an existing general information line. And, according to the Star article, complaints could not be lodged on the Complaint Line.

As research, your intrepid columnist phoned the line. The person I quickly reached was polite and helpful. She told me that complaint information would be taken for a data base but not acted upon individually. Formal complaints cannot be filed using the number. For that, I had to contact the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

I did not ask her to explain how the complaint line was suddenly not a complaint line. A little problem with this magic trick is that AODA was supposed to PREVENT individual complaints.

But perhaps you think this whole column is silly! You think there was NO magic involved. The explanation is: the Government lied. It made a commitment to make a complaint line but instead glued a new name onto an existing information line which could not take complaints. Yes, that does sound as if the Government lied and hoped no one would phone. Yet, as we know, the Government does not lie. Minister Duguid would not lie. Premier Wynne would not lie. Only a hopeless cynic would believe they lied. So it is not yes but no! The explanation must be that it was not a lie but a magic trick, for our amusement, with a further “reveal” coming! Certainly if you are the Government that sounds better!

How did they do it? How did the phone line magically change as we watched? Look up Minister Duguid’s sleeve and you will see nothing! In fact, look inside his suit and you will see nothing! To uncover the method behind the magic I sought the best experts. Here are their explanations. [I acknowledge some experts are deceased and the others were never contacted, but nothing can stop internet journalism!]


“I am not a magician but I did invent the telephone. I can’t explain it as a magic trick. Maybe they lied.”


Penn Jillette, the only half of the famous duo Penn and Teller who talks in public, would have considered this question if we had asked him. “Sleight of hand. This phone trick goes back to Alexander Graham Bell. You should talk with him but he probably won’t tell you anything. None of us will. We won’t break the Magician’s Code, although actually it’s more a guideline. Duguid is clever. Basically, while the public looks at him talking about the phone line, a confederate switches it. Simple misdirection! Or, maybe they lied.”


David Copperfield spoke with us on video phone although when we looked he was actually somewhere else. “Large scale illusions are fabulous. This one involved millions of people and I loved it. The trick involves mirrors and staging, more I cannot tell you. I can say that what they did with the AODA complaint line disappearing is similar to me making the State of Liberty disappear, although them making liberty disappear was a lot more symbolic. Or, maybe they lied.”


It was a magic trick to contact Harry Houdini, as it was Alexander Graham Bell, but in the spirit of the Magicians’ Code I will not explain how I did it. “It is an escape trick, a variation on the two locked glass boxes on the stage illusion,” Houdini explained. “You put the complaint AODA phone line in the first glass box. The second box is empty. You distract the audience and the next time they look, the AODA phone line has escaped from the first box and is in the second. Of course it is not the same line. It was a simple switch. The Government announced one line but did something else. No magic in that. Isn’t that lying?”

Several experts, several solutions. Despite all my research, there was no agreement. Only one person could tell us the secret behind the AODA Complaint Line: Minister Duguid himself!


“Confidentially, I borrow from the masters but add my own magic twist. I cannot tell you what it cost to buy the basic trick from Copperfield, but as a taxpayer it cost you a lot. No, I did not use misdirection. I announced the phone line and said complaints could be lodged there, yes. But then I also said that if you wanted to file a complaint go to the Human Rights Commission, not the complaint line. How did I make it work? What was my own magic twist? Confusion!”

Magic, lie or just confusion? Is there any way to really know when it comes to the Government’s implementation of AODA?

Next: Minister Duguid Announces AODA Complaints Can Be Filed Using Extinct Carrier Pigeons

Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satirical column to Accessibility News and the AODA Alliance. Buy the first nine chapters of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for .99 on Kindle at 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, He has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and volunteers. His email is