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May 11, 2018

Progressive Realization

Ministers handicapping the race for 2030

In answer to a question on public health enforcement, the government had this to say:

"The overall approach of the Accessibility Act reflects the “progressive realization”
philosophy behind the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities. The progressive realization philosophy acknowledges that it often takes time to realize many accessibility rights fully. The goal date of 2030 was deliberately chosen, after consultation with persons with disabilities and review of similar experiences in other provinces, to allow time for the significant work involved in developing and implementing standards in this area."

- source withheld by me

I used to work with a guy who was affable, kind of interesting, and had a problem completing things.  It was sort of passive-agressive, and he would even tell me he was going to do something and not do it.  "I'm gonna upgrade the server today."  Tomorrow would come and nothing had happened.  I think of him as the godfather of "progressive realization"

I feel that the Nova Scotia government has the same problem.  "Progressive realization" has already become the mantra for doing nothing about access until 2030, when we'll be retired or dead, and access will be someone else's problem.

The words "Progressive Realization" do not appear in the act.  And 2030 was chosen to appease the naysayers, not because of any inherent complexity.

Lots of scientists have explained inertia, but government invented it.
Galileo thinking about
progressive realization
  They would have you believe that only tortoises win races, that there is nothing that can be done while we wait for bureaucrats to cross the finish line in 12 years.

Government and its agencies at all levels have an obligation to take stock of themselves and make changes.  Does the government have to wait for 12 years before they install more than one accessible washroom in the Joseph Howe building?  Does HRM need until 2030 before insisting on a full wheelchair marathon?  Does it take a standard to compel DirectioNS to stop exploiting people with intellectual differences with offensively low wages?

Many of these issues can be solved with a stroke of the pen.  Rather than sitting around waiting for the tortoise, we should require departments to be proactive.  "Low hanging fruit", as Gerry Post, Executive Director of the new Accessibility Directorate would say.  I know he has a committee of Deputy Ministers underway.  One way they could be anticipatory is to incorporate accessibility into the way departments operate.  Another is to review and make changes to the full range of programs and policies they administer.

This will require some coordination, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know when something has an adverse effect on some Nova Scotians.  Does Access-a-Bus provide the flexibility for employment in a modern economy?  Do school athletic programs encourage participation by people of different abilities?  Does Communications Nova Scotia adequately serve those who need alternative formats like Braille or screen readers?

These and a thousand other issues could be addressed with a little thought before the tortoise leaves the starting gate.   

April 20, 2018

The Arms of Nova Scotia - Now and Then

The way ahead for Nova Scotia involves fundamental changes.


                1625                                                 2018

I like heraldry, but it isn't a forward-looking exercise.

In 1625 heraldry the unicorn was the symbol of Scotland. The unicorn was chosen because it was seen as a proud and haughty beast which would rather die than submit, just as Scots would fight to remain sovereign and unconquered.

Just what the First Person is doing is unclear, but his hand is clasped by a mailed fist above.  Military symbols abound - an arrow, a chain, a helmet.

The motto is MUNIT HAEC ET ALTERA VINCIT; One defends and the other conquers.  It expresses a top down, antagonistic, great-chain-of-being world view that just won't work in the 21st century.

In 2018, people are leaving.  Old ways of thinking - witness the Convention Center - lead down the path of financial ruin.  Ditto the model of social support endorsed by the Department of Community Services.  We need to reward participation, economic success and education.  Instead, we encourage dependency, poverty and isolation.

Not many people get this.  In his welcoming address to the Accessibility Advisory Board, Justice Minister Mark Furey said "We will expand accessibility in employment, education and the delivery of consumer services and programs.........Our partnership will help create a more accommodating and compassionate province."

What he meant to say is "We need people, ideas, customers, entrepreneurs, team members, immigrants and fairness.  Compassion won't get us where we need to be.  Now, make it happen!"

Some of the smartest Nova Scotians I know are on the Access Advisory Board.  They can get us to where we need to be if we embrace their vision.  They don't need compassion, they need our attention.

March 30, 2018

James McGregor Stewart Award 2018 Open for Nominations

The James McGregor Stewart Society is pleased to announce the opening of nominations for its 2018 award. The official description of the award follows. I can think of dozens of folks who deserve serious consideration, and I bet you can too. Please nominate people who have worked so hard for themselves and their community. The deadline for nominations is April 

An award to recognize outstanding contributions of individuals living with a disability

The purpose of this fund is to provide an award recognizing high achievement by a Nova Scotian with a disability. It honors the accomplishments of Mr. James McGregor Stewart who overcame many barriers, despite a reliance on crutches throughout his life as a result of childhood polio. First in his class at Dalhousie Law School in 1914, he was also President of the Students’ Council. He was shortlisted for the Rhodes Scholarship but was not successful, in part due to concerns expressed about his physical disability by the Dalhousie University Senate. Nevertheless, Stewart went on to head a Halifax law firm that became the present day Stewart McKelvey. He was Chairman of Dalhousie’s Board of Governors. In 2000, Canadian Lawyer magazine named him as one of Canada’s ten greatest lawyers. This Fund was established by a friend of the James McGregor Stewart Society and donations by The Maple Tree Fund to recognize Nova Scotians living with a disability for their leadership, personal accomplishment or effective advocacy.


Nominations are accepted for residents of Nova Scotia with disabilities.

Selection Criteria 

Nominees will be evaluated for determination and achievement in conquering personal or externally imposed boundaries, with emphasis on leadership, personal excellence and advocacy.

Award Frequency and Value

The one-thousand dollar Award will be presented annually on June 30th, (probably a day or two earlier this year) the anniversary of the birth date of James McGregor Stewart.

Past winners

2015 Sarah Dube
2016 Clary Stubbert
2017 Gerry Post

You can easily make an online nomination here

-Gus Reed

James McGregor Stewart Society
(902) 482 4017