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.
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.