BB Squared: Beautiful Brains, Bold Bodies

Starting and Celebrating Conversations About Differences

Guest Post: Nicholas Wendler, on Politics (Kind of) September 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beautifulbrainsboldbodies @ 7:50 am

Over the last few weeks, 10 candidates have had the opportunity to run campaigns in the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo after the resignation of Elizabeth Witmer occurred in April.  It seemed like an interesting turn of events, with the Liberal leader (Ontario’s Premier) appointing the long serving MPP of Kitchener-Waterloo provincial electoral district to chair the Workers Safety Insurance Board (WSIB).  I never thought too much of any involvement in the by-election that would result from this shuffle of positions, however I ended up having some involvement.

I decided that I would offer to volunteer for the Green Party of Ontario, for something different to do and as I agree with principles that seem to be behind the party.  Things like prevention of illness, promoting health, being fiscally responsible and trying to ensure the world endures into the future for our children and their children are some of the things I find to be valuable aspects of the party’s policies; it does not mean I intend to blindly follow each and every little thing without consideration of the logic behind it or anything like that.  But this is getting a little off track.

In helping out with data input for the party from their foot canvassing, I have been able to communicate a bit with Stacey Danckert, who is their candidate in the by-election.  You might be wondering by this point what this post has to do with anything about BBSquared, and I’ll explain.  In one of my emails back and forth with Stacey, I said I thought she did a good job in one of the debates I watched.  In this debate, there was a question raised from the audience regarding the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).  Also during the debate I noted candidates discussing heritage buildings.  The two topics were unrelated as far as I remember, but being a person with a physical difference, I connected them.  I live in an apartment which is advertised as “accessible” but the bathroom doorway is not 36”, but closer to 30”, and you have to cut a semi-tight corner to get in as well, or take a slight angle in from the living room through the short hallway that connects the bedroom/bathroom/living room door ways.  It isn’t the most pleasant, and if buildings could be emotive and express pain, I’m pretty sure that my apartment walls in that area would be screaming, yelling, or moaning out in pain because of the fact that they are banged up due to my travels between these rooms.  It is not designed the way I would expect something designated for people requiring personal care assistance/accessibility features to be designed.  The bathroom also has a roll-in shower which collects a nice puddle in the middle of its floor rather than draining every drop of water down the designated drain.  Water frequently ends up out of the shower and on the bathroom floor; the shower space being narrow does not help this at all.

So I briefly explained my living arrangement to Stacey saying how I had thought about it based on the two topics I heard raised in the debate.  I also noted that I sent an email to an MPP about it in the past, and received a form letter in response.

In my email, I said something about not intending to complain but just stating what had gone through my mind.  The response, which I actually forwarded to Carmen as I thought she might also find it interesting, was much more responsive to the issue than saying thanks for the “Good job” email.  The short email brought some sense of her personally understanding that those who do not live with a difference are not privy to such challenges faced by those with a difference.  Her response referred to arranging for accessibility for Green Party members from out of town to go to a restaurant, and her findings about how limited accessible options can be.  She also expressed that she was going to look into it a little further.  The response made it seem as though understanding the issue further was somewhat of a priority as well; though I’m sure that many voters have a lot of other priorities in mind which Stacey, as a candidate speaking to them, would have to consider so .

It seems rather infrequent that a candidate gives such a personalized message; albeit I have helped with the campaigning of the party a little bit.  I’m familiar with form letters, or emails which seem sort of personal but are really written in such a way that they are rather general and not speaking necessarily to anything specific.  I am familiar with the response that is non-existent as well, which is really helpful (sarcasm intended – well actually, it is helpful to enable me to use the deduction method when making a vote choice).  There are also times where things are said by politicians that seem completely irrelevant and of no benefit to them to say, such as that which was recently spoken in American politics.  I could be wrong though, maybe the concept of legitimate rape is on everyone’s mind.

Maybe also, if we legitimately want 100% accessibility for people of differences, it could just, you know, happen.  That’d be kind of neat, also rather helpful for me not to have to throw out the question of accessibility time and time again as a precautionary measure.  Then again, my friends, family, and others in group events have tended to prove that if you legitimately want to be inclusive, you can make it happen through a little team work, planning or otherwise.  I’ve had my wheelchair carried up a few stairs now and then by a couple of people on either side lifting.  The methods involved in making the inaccessible become accessible are generally explainable though, or so I believe as of this writing.  Feel free to prove me wrong.  But I think I’m slightly off topic.

My point in this post is not to discuss random issues in politics, it is not necessarily to provide you with a philosophical rant about anything political or otherwise, as a tangent from the main point, though this may or may not have occurred within the post.  My point is that it seems uncommon for the human touch to be a part of politics today, and that the human element can really create a connection which is enlightening to those being connected.  Politics is often like a game.  Many players sit this one out; perhaps they’re just not finding that human connection with a candidate, which strikes a chord with what the “player” values or believes with regard to political issues.  Anyone can say they know what the citizens want or value, but the interaction which this post is based upon teaches that a candidate (or any human being) doesn’t innately know everything going on in the inner workings of a voter (or other human being’s) life or their mind.  It has been nice to see even a small amount of that human connection in politics, which isn’t strategically placed in order to try and win votes.  Perhaps in this case, because I have been more of a volunteer for a campaign and am actually ineligible to vote in the by-election on Thursday, September 6th, the communication could have taken a different twist than it would otherwise.  However, Stacey also mentioned to me how an event she attended which was focused upon poverty and was really informative about how we treat people.  It is quite nice to see someone truly caring and passionate in their role as a candidate to represent an electoral district.  It will be interesting to see the results roll in this evening once everyone gets out their vote if they live in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding.

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