"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected
and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever
~Clarence Darrow

Monday, September 21, 2009

Response to Gov't Throne Speech

Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities

Nova Scotia Speech from the Throne Disappoints Disability Advocates

The NDP Government’s Speech from the Throne last Thursday is disappointing for disability advocates and consumers. Government priorities indicate a commitment to inclusion and to leadership in social change. It promises to protect Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable and to recognize its citizen’s intrinsic value and the richness they bring to caring and compassionate communities. Unfortunately, with all the discussion of inclusion, diversity, and social change, there is not one mention of persons with disabilities in this speech.

“This is gravely disappointing because being left out of discussions that speak to making life better for the citizens of Nova Scotia is what persons with disabilities have become accustomed to in this province. Unfortunately, this speech does not point to the change in approach to disability issues we had hoped for in an NDP Government”, says Cynthia Bruce, Provincial Coordinator of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (NSLEO). When considered in conjunction with the government’s response to the recently reported cases of abuse in Pictou County, it is even more disturbing. It indicates that the rights and well being of Nova Scotia’s 200,000 citizens with disabilities are not a priority for this government.

NSLEO Chair, Joan Levack says, "We strongly urge Darrel Dexter and his Cabinet to listen to the disability community and commit to the swift development and implementation of a disability strategy which will recognize the intrinsic value of persons with disabilities and which will guarantee flexible and individualized supports within a responsive and progressive system". With at least half of Nova Scotia’s families being affected in some way by disability, this is the only way to ensure this government provides a better deal for these Nova Scotia families. NSLEO looks forward to working collaboratively with this new government in a solution focused approach to ensuring this better deal, and we urge this government to engage the considerable leadership potential of the disability community in this process.

For further comment, please contact:
Cynthia Bruce, Provincial Coordinator
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities
Joan Levack, Chair
Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities

Personally, I would be willing to cut our new NDP government a bit more slack. It's still very early in the game and although I might just be naive (and a tiny bit desperate), I have to believe (at least for now) that the NDP will come through for us. At least, in part.

BUT. And this is a very big BUT, I think it's imperative that the disability community (that's us, by the way) get out there and make sure they hear our concerns. Again. Remind them about why we elected them. And what needs to be done.

Whether it's with regard to education, community services or some other issue. I see this as a prime time (indeed, what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity) to get our voices heard by someone who may actually listen.

We made history once. Now we need to make it again.

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