And the Fight Continues

I know many of you are already thinking “There’s goes Terry again, picking another fight” but some you can’t just walk (or in my case wheel) away from.  I’m not really known for my complacency so I am taking a big exception to this one.  In part because I was in living in Calgary during the big flood and I saw how many scooters were destroyed because of this exact kind of policy.

Scooter after Calgary flood
This will never be repairable!

There is another scooter related situation going on in Maple Ridge, BC currently which I find particularly upsetting.  Fundamentally it another act of erosion at the basics of our human rights.  And why do I find this particularly upsetting when I have witnessed it happening for the past twenty years.  In part because myself and many of my contemporaries with a disability fought hard and long for the rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Yes there actually is such a document but it is only as effective as it is monitored and I will be damned before I will sit back and watch it slowly be eroded until it is just another worthless government promise.  

The proposed Charter of Values coming out of Quebec is a very good example of just how provinces can erode the basics of Charter Rights but also highlights why we always have to be vigil.  Being vigil means raising my voice over certain issues because we have a whole segment of society that has no idea what “human rights” are.  The fact that Angela was asked to sign a rental agreement forfeiting her rights to reasonable accommodation by denying her access to her mobility aid is a prime example of how little awareness there is out there.

It is maddening and frustrating to accept that much of what my life’s purpose can so easily be swept under the carpet because nobody really wants to know.  If I didn’t raise my voice every now and then why did I spend as much of my life’s energy on this cause as I have.  This is just another example where if you want certain rights you sometimes have to fight for them.  The fact that fighting for them also carries a heavy load of stress which is counter-productive to health is a dichotomy every advocate with a disability has to face.

Now I don’t pick a fight due to every little issue that comes along.   Some are just more important than others.  And what makes them important to me is the erosive impact any particular issue will have the life of the Charter.  The Quebec Charter of Values could result in denying the rights of a large group of the community.  That is erosion on a provincial basis  

Asking someone like Angela to sign their rights away is an individual issue but erodes the whole purpose of the Charter.  When it comes to housing, a topic of great importance to me, nobody should have to forego their rights to attain it.  Unfortunately most landlords have no idea about that kind of thing and the powers that be, the government, don’t seem all that thrilled to actually inform or enforce their own regulations.

As many of you are aware I recently moved to BC from Alberta.  Apartment hunting for an accessible place is difficult enough but to do it long distance complicates it further.  With that said I have one response I would like to share with you.  I saved the e-mail for a number of reasons.  This was the third in a string of e-mails regarding renting this persons two bedroom apartment in Kelowna.

  • Terry, I shall forward some articles recently published on a local news service regarding two condo fires we have just had in Kelowna.  I can’t in good conscience rent to someone in a wheelchair living on the 4th floor who would be reliant on the elevator which wouldn’t be available in the event of a fire.  The building is not sprinklered at all.  Cheers, Carol

Now I could have fought this.  The fact that this lady actually send me an e-mail basically telling me she was refusing me rental based on my wheelchair (disability related) says this is one landlord who doesn’t know the regulations at all.  She did, however, state she couldn’t “in good conscience” which shows good intentions.  However as I have said so many times do not bless me with good intentions.

Yeah this one really pisses me off.  Almost everyone I am aware of who lost their scooters due to the flood in Calgary may never get them replaced because of cost.  These pieces of equipment are not supplied by the provincial government.  However Angela’s rights can be given back to her with the swing of a pen if our government bureaucracy is as serious about individual rights as they are sitting in the Legislature.  Oh right that was cancelled as well!

Just one man’s opinion! 




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