Susan Dixon has started a petition: Has anyone at Canada Post ever tried to to push a stroller or a wheelchair or a walker through the snow? I don't think they realize the impact of ending door-to-door mail delivery when it comes to the parents of young children, to the disabled, and to the elderly, especially in winter...

Growing up in the 1950s and '60s in the United States, where right-wing scoundrels turned patriotic symbols into political cudgels, left me with a lifelong aversion to flags, ribbons, lapel pins, and other obligatory trappings of national fealty. When I moved to Canada, this aversion morphed into a disinclination to wear poppies. As best I can tell, most Canadians see the poppy as a neutral symbol of respect for veterans. Social pressure to wear it is strong. Acquaintances and strangers alike view my failure to fall in step as inexplicable, disrespectful, and distasteful. I regret this. After years of attempts to...

Elections Nova Scotia quietly posted the poll-by-poll results of  the October 8 Nova Scotia election on its website last Thursday Preliminary poll-by-poll results are normally released immediately after the vote, but this year, for the first time in living memory, elections bureaucrats decided to keep the detailed results to themselves for three weeks. The only explanation offered was that the Chronicle-Herald wasn't interested in publishing them (as it had traditionally), so Chief Electoral Officer Richard P. Temporale decided no one else could have them either. Aside from this inexcusable delay, the agency did a good job of presenting the tallies, making them available in...

Please read journalist Peter Maass's spellbinding account of how reporter/polemicist Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras collaborated in bringing to light NSA leaker Edward J. Snowden's disclosures about massive illegal spying by the US Government. Seriously, if you read nothing else this week, do read this richly detailed, 10,000-word account of how Snowden made contact with Poitras, how Poitras roped Greenwald into the project, and how they communicate privately when all three are targeted by the most sophisticated electronic spying in the world. It reads alternately like a novel, a spy thriller, a quirky travelog, and most importantly, like detailed expose of...

Contrarian friend Gus Reed, co-founder of the James McGregor Stewart Society, sums up the significance of a unanimous decision today by the House of Assembly Management Commission that will require that constituency offices for all Nova Scotia MLAs to be barrier free: This simple regulation marks a sea change in approach for the provincial government: People with disabilities are acknowledged to have the same rights as others Written rules, rather than promises, are the solution All parties agree on the principle, the problem and the solution The initiative came from the community of Nova Scotians with disabilities Let's hope that the lesson is not lost and...

Last spring, a disability rights organization surveyed the constituency offices of Nova Scotia MLAs and found hardly any were fully accessible to citizens who use wheelchairs. In May, the James McGregor Stewart Society cajoled the House of Assembly Management Commission into meeting and considering ways to remove barriers from MLAs' offices. The campaign hinged on passing changes before the election, so newly elected MLAs could be required to find accessible space, while returning MLAs would have a modest grace period to comply. I was skeptical. I expected the inconvenience of modifying or relocating constituency offices might trump the obvious injustice of preventing...

Last month, University of Massachusetts scientists working with laboratory cell cultures said they had succeeded in suppressing the extra chromosome associated with Down syndrome, a technique they predicted could lead to treatments targeted at the symptoms of the condition. Halifax resident Renee Forrestall, whose 22-year-old daughter Marie Webb has Down Syndrome, condemned the research as akin to cultural genocide. We've got a genetically similar community, visible minority who are being targeted and terminated globally. People think, "Well, this is the way it is and these people just shouldn't be." A friend who knows I have identical twin grandchildren with Down Syndrome sought my...

Huffington Post's Canadian edition yesterday published an investigative report by a team of student journalists from the University of King's College detailing the housing crisis facing Nova Scotians with intelectual disabilities. There is not enough room in the system for all of the people who need a place to live. They languish on waiting lists that are hundreds of names long. Their families, in turn, must support them with scant financial, caregiving or community programming resources. Eventually the families get too old or sick to do it, making the situation for their relatives in rehab even worse. With so little room, placements...

The James McGregor Stewart Society, a small voluntary group with a single summer intern, has managed to pull off in a month what the Disabled Persons Commission of NS (annual budget: $600,000) and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ($2.1 million) have not achieved in the decades of their existence. It has surveyed the accessibility of MLAs offices throughout the province. The results will not be a source of pride for Nova Scotia or its legislators. The survey rated MLAs' constituency offices based on parking facilities, power door buttons, entrance accessibility, washroom accessibility, and proximity to accessible bus routes. Since accessible bus routes are...

A committee meeting at Province House this week has the potential to correct a logstanding injustice in the way Nova Scotia is governed. At the behest of the James McGregor Stewart Society, a disability rights organization, the House of Assembly Management Commission will consider requiring constituency offices to be fully accessible before MLAs can claim reimbursement of office expenses. You might expect this to go without saying in 2013, but it doesn't. Many MLAs' offices are only partly, if at all, accessible. They may have a level entry or a satisfactory wheelchair ramp, but lack a paved parking lot or an accessible...