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Paranoia About Politicians: Is There A Down Side?

By Victor Schwartzman  
September 30, 2013

Dean Mayo Moran of the University of Toronto has been appointed the new Independent Reviewer on how the Government has done implementing AODA.  Justice has finally been served! 

Or has justice been served up, medium rare?  After all, no matter what recommendations she may make, the fate of Dean Moran’s eventual report is in the hands of the politicians both Government politicians and those parties in opposition and those parties who would like to be opposition and then graduate to Government. 

Community advocates’ pressure over years culminated in the AODA legislation in 2005, which built on earlier legislation.  Along the way, advocates were supported by politicians of all stripes, mostly yellow.  As the apparently nearly impossible goal was hard enough of having AODA legislation written and proclaimed, advocates did not pressure politicians for much reality.  Now reality is here and it ain’t great.  

The politicians appeared to create a time and energy consuming consultation process throughout the AODA story, leading to AODA existing mostly on paper only.  Should we be angry about the politicians’ actions or lack thereof?  Yes!  Based on the AODA experience, should advocates and, for that matter, Dean Moran be paranoid about politicians? 

Paranoid is an ugly word.  It implies the concerns are wildly unreasonable, invented even.  That the problem is the person expressing the concerns.  Is it paranoid to not trust politicians? 

Scholars and drop-outs both agree that there is nothing new in not trusting politicians. 

Shakespeare wrote about it, going farther back so probably did Aristotle and, for that matter, a cave was found in France where a Neanderthal had drawn pictures of untrustworthy politicians. 

It is to the advocates’ credit that they were trusting.  They are trusting, they just want the best for everyone, and I wish I had a camera to take a photo of them right now! 

Advocates should not be criticized for AODA’s stagnation. Nor, for that matter, should politicians be criticized.  To criticize anyone
is unCanadian.

Yet the 2025 deadline for full accessibility in Ontario is now closer by a decade.  So rather than criticize, we offer the following suggestions when
pressing for politicians to implement AODA effectively.  These suggestions are useful for more than advocates or Dean Moran.  The suggestions are also useful for lobbyists.     

Top Ten Warning Signs From A Politician   

10. Commits to live up to promises.  Hahahahahaha gag gag!  Just thought we should start off with a laugh.  Thinking about this can cause a belly ache.  Promises are great.  And cheap.  Always be sure and get some.  But promises often become reality after relentless pressure.

9. Won’t give a deadline.  A politician can promise you the moon.  Assuming you had the room in your backyard for the moon, the question is when will the promise be kept?  You need a deadline.  Any commitment without a firm deadline for the politician giving you the moon is yanking your chain.

8 Always smiling.  You can usually never tell whether a politician loves or hates you or can’t remember who you are.  They always smile.  This
is fake friendliness, just like from a store clerk.  Do not be seduced by smiles and handshakes and friendly tones.  Note the smile but check out the dainties. 
If the danishes are stale, beware. 

7. Always willing to meet.  Early on politicians are always willing to meet and appear to be involved in whatever your cause is.  Time can always
be scheduled, especially when an election draws near.  Let neither dainties nor having a meeting fool you. Getting on a politician’s schedule is often nothing more than filing in a blank in his or her day.  You are that blank. 

6. No longer willing to meet.  Ooops.  This includes getting only a short meeting.  Something bad has happened, is happening or will happen.  Get your tenses ready but don’t be tense!

5. Never says anything specific.  A politician’s middle name is “Vague.”  Good politicians certainly understand how to talk and how to listen. 
Who knows, when listening, what the politician hears?  When the politician is talking often they operate on the “Airbag” principle, suddenly expanding verbally. 

4. No actual commitments.  Committing to thinking about it doesn’t count for much, especially after six months.  Never wait (unless it is a good idea.)  Push a politician to do something, something real and practical, and now.  If nothing else, get money.  If a politician backs putting up money, you’re on the way!  Get the commitment but make sure you actually get the result.  Remember that The Commitments were a fake singing group created for a feature film about made-up characters in a pretend situation.  Most politicians are even less real than that.  

3. Too much hospitality.  Remember dainties?  No dainties is very bad.  Too much time saying hello and then dainties, still talking, is also bad. 
Is a lot of time spent catching up on how everyone has done since the last meeting?  An entire hour can be filled up with encouraging hospitality and then you are out the door.

2. Beware foreshadowing.  Beware the politician who casually mentions, in passing, that you will get total support pending considerations…developments…situations which could occur.  If it is bad enough for the politician to mention a future problem, it is a current problem and could be a disaster.  Beware also red flags such as “but”, “notwithstanding” (which is not a word), “almost certainly”, “We’ll see and get back to you” and so on.  By the way, if a politician tells you something you have written or proposed is “perfect”, also beware.  If it is not going to be changed it is not in the real world.  

1. Written commitments and $25 will get you a cab ride to the Legislature in Toronto, if you live close by, not including tip.  Making a written
commitment, as did the Premier and other politicians guaranteeing their support for AODA and its underlying principles, often means you have an autograph. 

There is always emotional pressure by going public or reminding the public about the written commitment, but first the politician must believe the voting public gives a hoot.      

Next: Why did it take so long to appoint a new Independent Reviewer?