AN OP­POR­TU­NITY MISSED

Politi­cians need to be en­gaged to cham­pion causes

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Cam TAIT [email protected]­media.com @cam­tait

There is some­thing not right, and it sig­nals a much big­ger is­sue.

It seems the eas­i­est way to han­dle tough prob­lems is to pre­tend you don’t see, or hear them, which gives you a li­cence to con­ve­niently ig­nore them.

All we have to do is lis­ten to Mon­day’s fed­eral lead­ers de­bate. Go ahead. Hit the play but­ton on your handy dandy re­mote control to fire up your PVR.

Lis­ten for two words. One of them is vet­er­ans. The other word is dis­abil­ity.

If you can hear them, you’re more as­tute than me, and per­haps, that’s a strong sig­nal that my news­pa­per jour­ney has nearly come to an end.

But I don’t think I’m mis­taken. So I will con­tinue my dis­ser­ta­tion of where I see things lin­ing up in the fu­ture.

It isn’t an im­age of na­tional pride.

The fun­da­men­tal foun­da­tion that gives Cana­di­ans a right to live in a democ­racy, which pro­foundly gives us the priv­i­lege to vote ev­ery four years, is traced back to the first and sec­ond world wars.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Cana­dian men and women gave the ultimate sac­ri­fice — their lives — so gen­er­a­tions upon gen­er­a­tion can live in free­dom.

Yet, as @Hock­ey­chil99 pointed out on Twit­ter af­ter Mon­day’s de­bate, there wasn’t any ref­er­ence to Cana­dian vet­er­ans … never mind the is­sues they are fac­ing.

The ques­tion needs to be asked why? Why are men and women who serve our coun­try not worth a men­tion in such an im­por­tant di­a­logue as a lead­ers de­bate?

What kind of re­spect and grat­i­tude is that? Not much, I say.

We need to take care of our war he­roes — the same way we need to pro­vide ser­vices and pro­grams for all Cana­di­ans who need them.

Like Cana­di­ans liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

The story — or, should that read the non-story? — con­tin­ues for the al­most four mil­lion Cana­di­ans who have a dis­abil­ity.

Like our es­teemed vet­eran cit­i­zens, Cana­di­ans with dis­abil­i­ties face chal­lenges in everyday liv­ing. And — please for­give me for falling into the bro­ken record syn­drome — those is­sues which can be solved with open dis­cus­sion have not even made the slight­est blip on the radar screen dur­ing this cam­paign.

We can point our fin­gers at the party lead­ers.

But I think it may very well go deeper.

Hu­man na­ture proves per­sonal en­gage­ment goes a long way for lead­ers to cham­pion spe­cific causes. Re­la­tion­ships need to be formed, cul­ti­vated and nur­tured.

So an­other se­ri­ous ques­tion needs to be asked: are or­ga­ni­za­tions — specif­i­cally those whose mis­sion state­ment is to lobby the fed­eral govern­ment for change — en­gag­ing politi­cians for them to buy in?

Con­sider this: the Cana­dian Coun­cil on Dis­abil­i­ties has the fol­low­ing man­date writ­ten on their web­site: The Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans with Dis­abil­i­ties (CCD) unites ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tions of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to de­fend and ex­tend hu­man rights for per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties through pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, ad­vo­cacy, in­ter­ven­tion in lit­i­ga­tion, re­search, con­sul­ta­tion and part­ner­ships. CCD am­pli­fies the ex­per­tise of our part­ners by act­ing as a con­ven­ing body and con­sen­sus builder.

Now, look at their Twit­ter time­line. Their last Tweet was June 10, three months be­fore the Oct. 21 vote was called. Enough said.

It is, in­deed, sad Cana­dian vet­er­ans and cit­i­zens with dis­abil­i­ties ap­pear to have to wait an­other four years for an­other fed­eral elec­tion to have a voice.

Adrian WYLD/THE Cana­dian PRESS

Fed­eral party lead­ers pose be­fore the fed­eral lead­ers de­bate in Gatineau, Que., on Mon­day. The is­sues of mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties were not raised dur­ing the de­bate.

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