Canada’s Paralympic Raisin in the Sun

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

—Langston Hughes

On December 3, 2009, The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Canada tabled in the House of Commons the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to Minister of Defense Peter McKay who tabled the Bill:

The government’s tabling of the Convention on the day the United Nations officially designates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities demonstrates Canada’s strong commitment to removing obstacles and creating opportunities for persons with disabilities.

The government indicated that this was important legislation and that it would work to pass the Bill in time for the Paralympic games in February.This certainly was a lovely dream. With athletes with disabilities arriving in Canada from all over the world, it would be great to tell them about how Canada placed a high priority on moving the convention through Parliament. Well, there are only a few weeks left before the paralympic games, and that dream  has faded away. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament early in January the Convention and everything else on the table was died. Of course, when Canada’s Parliament comes back to session Bills that dies on the Table can be introduced, and hopefully the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities will be tabled again and hopefully it will resuscitated and brought back to life in Canada.

Of course, there is little reason to believe that the Government actually wants to back away from its commitment to Canadians with disabilities. The dream is not dead, simply deferred. No doubt, when Parliament returns, reintroducing and affirming the Convention will be among the first priorities of all parties, or may be they will just table the convention every December 3rd to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and kill it again a few weeks later. Canada was among the very first countries to sign their intention to ratify the Convention. If they had ratified by the start of the Olympics 2010, we would have been among the first 80 nations to ratify. Anyone want to bet whether we will be in the first 100?

Justice delayed IS justice denied.

Whatever the reason that the Government of Canada decided  to suspend Parliament, the Government owes Canadians with Disabilities and apology for making a show of putting the Convention on the Table and then killing it. Let’s hope the Government will demonstrate that this is not broken promise  and they actually care (at least a little about this) by ensuring that this is among the first orders of business when Parliament resumes.


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