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Minister Duguid Forces Pollyanna To Kafka

By Victor Schwartzman, with Pollyanna and Franz Kafka
August 18, 2014

POLLYANNA: I went to Franz’s place even though the last time we met he wished I would wake up the next morning as a giant cockroach. But he was the only person who could help me.

KAFKA: I had never seen Pollyanna so…anxious. I liked that. It was a good response to life. Finally! I welcomed her in.

POLLYANNA: I showed Franz a letter from Minister Duguid to the AODA Alliance. I told him I was unable to play the Glad Game with it, for the first time in my life.

Back in May, the Alliance wrote the previous Minister with concerns and suggestions about the implementation of AODA. It also requested information needed for the Alliance’s submission to the new Independent Reviewer.

KAFKA: But Minister Hoskins did not answer because he said he could not answer questions during an election. Yes, I can see how it is hard for you to play the Glad Game about that.

POLLYANNA: No, that one was easy. But on August 8, the new Minister responsible for AODA, Brad Duguid, wrote back. The Alliance sent a 4,800 word letter. His response was 162 words.

Here it all is. It begins: “I am writing to you in response to your May 2, 2014 letter to my predecessor, Minister Hoskins. I was appointed as Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure on June 24, and I am excited to take on this new portfolio. Accessibility is important to our economy and to our communities, and I look forward to learning more about the issues.” I thought, I can play the Glad Game about this. For example, I was glad he wrote back. Although it sounded like he thought access meant getting agreement to build roads and mines.

KAFKA: I do not think Minister Duguid wrote this. A high school senior wrote it. Perhaps one who is failing English. Duguid must have plagiarized it.

POLLYANNA: Then he wrote: “I recall our meeting to discuss accessibility issues in the education sector when I was the Minister for Training, Colleges and Universities.” Here I had a real problem, Franz. He remembers meeting but not what issues were discussed or how urgent they are? And he writes nothing about doing anything after that meeting to follow up or improve access. I began getting anxious.

KAFKA: A healthy response to life. We are at Grade 6.

POLLYANNA: His next lines are: “In your letter, you asked for information in order to respond to the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. I understand that you did submit a response by the deadline of June 30. Thank you for contributing.” Golly, Franz! Help me here!

KAFKA: Well, he acknowledges the Government did not meet the deadline, offers no explanation or apology or even the information itself. His sole reason for not providing the information seems to be that the Alliance ignored the Government’s failure and wrote a submission anyway.

POLLYANNA: You’re not helping. “Your letter outlines a number of other recommendations for our work going forward. I thank you for taking the time to write, and I look forward to meeting with you soon to discuss this important work.”

That is the whole letter. He looks forward to a meeting he does not set a date for. I do not understand. He sees no urgency in the AODA situation at all.

KAFKA: We have dropped to Pre-school. I believe the proper phrase is, he “blew the Alliance off.”

POLLYANNA: What do you mean? Blow up like a balloon?

KAFKA: Yes, Pollyanna. And you have learned the first lesson of growing up. Some things you cannot play the Glad Game about. Some things require that you get really upset, because otherwise they will never change.

POLLYANNA: But I should not get too upset because in the end nothing matters, so why bother.

KAFKA: Let’s not go overboard. That is enough for one day, Pollyanna.

Next: Premier Wynne Looks For Minister Who Thinks Access Is Urgent—But Cannot Find One!

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.