By Victor Schwartzman
August 17, 2015
Inextricably related to the federal election is the Mike Duffy trial. Duffy has been charged with 31 counts of fraud and bribery related to his activities as a Senator, specifically charges he made to his Senate expense account. You know about that trial–but have you have heard about the OTHER trial?
OTHER trial? Yes, the trial which revealed the inner workings of the Government, including the Wall of Unknowledge.
Most people do not know this because it never happened, but last year the Ontario Government was charged with 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust, deception and illusion creation. Specifically, the Government allegedly encouraged the development of access legislation for political reasons and then refused for political reasons to implement it (possibly as a sign of what was to come, the Government passed the access legislation while using the Legislature Washroom. When Premier McGuinty told journalists AODA was a flush, he said he referred to poker.)
Included in the charges? The Government owes Ontarians with disabilities the lost pay they should have received if AODA had been properly implemented. Specific politicians are charged with fraud for making promises to implement the AODA access legislation they had no intention of keeping. And the Government is charged with using a cover story to hide the fraud.
The most revealing evidence in the trial has not been the spoken testimony but emails to and from the Premiers. When the new access law was proclaimed the Government went into damage control. Premier McGuinty knew businesses and municipalities were concerned about any new regulations. Both he and Kathleen Wynne pressured their Chiefs of Staff in emails, writing that something was wrong about AODA and the staff should do something.
The trial evidence shows that the staff got the message. The Government built a cover story about AODA implementation being successful while working behind the scenes to ensure access law would not be enforced near any election cycle. The Government told the public AODA implementation was proceeding while secretly sabotaging it.
How much did the Premiers know? In their testimony earlier this year, the Premiers swore implementation was on course and they believed their staff when told there were no problems. Implementation details were left to staff and they denied any specific knowledge of what their staff then did. Both the Premiers and their Chiefs of Staff said this was deliberate. Their name for it is the Wall of Unknowledge.
The purpose of the Wall of Unknowledge is to create a situation where the Premier claims plausible deniability. However, deniability in this situation is implausible. Either the Premiers knew what was going on or they had no clue-neither option inspires confidence. It is easier to believe the Premiers were on top of the AODA sabotage. They are strong Leaders who control what their minions are up to.
Regarding the Wall of Unknowledge, during the trial the Chiefs of Staff testified that Premiers should not know everything. It is policy. The Wall of Unknowledge allows Premiers to say they were not responsible. Also, too much information for a Premier is dangerous. The Chiefs testified that it is vital for smooth running that the Government’s Leader not know who the Government is screwing.
That is what they testified. However, there were cracks in this know-nothing defense.
For example, emails from the Premiers demonstrated they wanted AODA cleared up, and quickly. Although the Premiers never wrote how it should be done, their emails demonstrate involvement. Those concerns were never made public. Instead, they stated access law implementation was going well. News reports, however, were the opposite. The question was raised at the trial whether the Premiers could be unaware of regular negative media reports. The Premiers responded by stating that they never look at the media. Their staff look at it for them.
In fact, we learned that Premiers often walk about the Legislature wearing blindfolds and ear muffs, to avoid knowing anything they shouldn’t. Occasionally they spend entire days in a sensory deprivation chamber. Or alone in a Legislature Washroom stall, where they do some of their most memorable work!
Washroom stalls and Canadian access politics! Always connected!
(Oh: the stall is not accessible, at least in Yellowknife.)
Next: That Depends On Whether Anything Happens On Access!! Will It? Are You Doing Anything During The Election? Is There An Election? What Channel Is It On? Does It Have A Twitter Account? Is It On Summer Vacation?
Victor Schwartzman has contributed this weekly satirical column to Accessibility News and the AODA Alliance since May 13, 2013. Check out 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 for free on Facebook. The unpolished first nine chapters got a “4 out of 5 star” review! He is currently polishing the novel. 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 his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.