Here We Go Again: Canada Bars Family of Autistic Teen

Recently, we told you about an immigration restriction case involving a family living in Montreal. We then told you about the resolution of that case.

As evidence that the recent case was not an isolated incident, this Ottawa Citizen article describes a similar case.

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LEAF and DAWN Intervene in Case Before the Supreme Court of Canada

Below is a press release put out yesterday by the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Disabled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN). The two organizations will intervene on a case before the Supreme Court that could potentially have serious impacts on the rights of women generally and those of disabled women specifically.

There are several important issues that are going to have to be considered in the case, particularly the systemic barriers to employment face by disabled people and disabled women in particular and the inherently problematic, and all too frequent, attempts to judge the abilities or lack of abilities of a person based on brief, and not necessarily representative, observations of that person.

I hope the Supreme Court will do the right thing and overturn the lower courts decision. Read the full press release below.

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Update on Immigration Restriction Case

In this article from the Ottawa Citizen, you can read more about the family described in this earlier post on immigration restrictions.

A family from France, who were told they could not remain in Canada because their eight-yearold handicapped daughter would be an “excessive burden” on social services, has won a reprieve after the intervention of Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.

The family was facing expulsion in July after Canadian immigration officials rejected Barlagne’s application for permanent residency status, saying his daughter, Rachel, was deemed “medically inadmissible” because she has cerebral palsy. Her “excessive burden” on social services would have been $5,259 a year in special educational costs.

You can find the full story here.

CCD Press Release Regarding Immigration Restrictions

Below is a press release that is being circulated today by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. The release concerns a decision by Immigration Canada to reject a family’s immigration application because the family includes a disabled child.

Sweeping immigration restrictions were an important part of the eugenics movement in Canada and the US. However, I think it is not quite right to call the rejection of this family’s immigration application a form of eugenics. I think it makes a difference that an important motivation for immigration restrictions in the past was that immigrants would breed with “Canadians” and “Americans” and produce “inferior stock”. I don’t believe that is what is motivating immigration restrictions like the one discussed in the press release.

That said, what I think is true is that similar sorts of attitudes about disability underlie both historical and contemporary immigration restrictions and that such restrictions are far too sweeping and constitute a form of discrimination.

The most important attitudes that I think underlie both historical and current immigration restrictions are 1) that disability is a financial burden that the public has the right to refuse to bear, and 2) that disability is the result of some sort of biological defect possessed by an individual. It seems to me much harder to justify preventing this family from living in Canada once it’s recognized that any additional costs associated with disability (granting for the sake of argument that there are such costs, though they are often exaggerated) are the result of unjust and badly designed products, services, and institutions, which the Canadian government is largely responsible for creating and perpetuating.

Full press release is below.

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Too dumb to be a mum?

Many stories like this (this one from the Mirror; h/t Velvet Martin) out there.  Does anyone know the legislative basis for these interventions in the UK?  One prong in many pieces of eugenics legislation was “incapable of parenting”–the other was “prospect of transmission of mental defectiveness”.  So this makes you wonder how far we are from that eugenic past.

On Mother’s Day.. the heart warming story of a girl who had to fight for the right to bring up her own child

Kerry McDougall with son Ben (pic: John Power)

Strolling along the beach, her young son in her arms, Kerry McDougall prepares for the perfect Mother’s Day – one that last year she could only dream of.

For 12 months ago tiny Ben was in care and Kerry’s life was in tatters – after social workers deemed her both too stupid to look after her son AND not even bright enough to wed her fiancé Mark.

Ben was just three days old when social workers marched into the maternity ward where Kerry was breastfeeding and took him away.

It was the start of a long, heartbreaking battle to become a proper family.

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Disturbing Portrayal of Blindness

I’m used to bad portrayals of blindness and blind people—portrayals that fail to recognize the huge extent to which the challenges associated with blindness are created by negative attitudes, misconceptions about blindness, and badly designed products, services, and institutions. What I’m not used to is such a blatantly offensive and exploitative representation of blindness. This is truly one of the worst of recent years.

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