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...

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that New York City has become the first major municipality to adopt the new active symbol of accessibility, which Contrarian first wrote about in September, 2011. The result of a collaboration between Sara Hendren, graduate student at the Harvard School of Design, and Brian Glenney, philosophy professor at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, the revised icon recasts the passive, static International Symbol of Accessibility (demeaningly known as the "handicapped sign"), investing it with vigor and a sense of motion. The Chronicle reports: New York, in a move that could spark similar updates worldwide, has now agreed to use...

The Dexter Government's decision to make a retroactive grab for disgraced MLA Trevor Zinck's pension should not pass without comment. It is a cynical exercise in pre-election pandering to public hatred of politicians. The pandering ploy reflects badly on the government as a whole, but especially on the lawyers among its ranks, including Darrell Dexter and Graham Steele, both of whom certainly know better. The courts should be left to deal with Mr. Zinck according to the evidence as it may be adduced at trial, and the law as it existed at the time his of alleged crimes and misdemeanors. His...

Contrarian reader Joyce Rankin reacts to Contrarian's caution that justice will not be served by presuming a hearsay accusation of sexual assault to be true in every detail. I don't usually print reader responses at this length, but in the interests of fairness I will do so in this case without edits. Please, please, please don't be one of those men who keep doubting that a rape took place. Every woman knows that there are many many rapes that are never reported because the victim knows exactly what kind of a shitstorm she will letting herself in for and decides not...

I have more reader mail on the furore around Rehtaeh Parsons' death and the factors that led to it. Once again, a few preliminary points. Rehtaeh's family and friends are going through an unimaginably horrible experience, one they have handled with grace and courage. The one point that united everyone in this case is sympathy for their ordeal. It bears repeating that, if you or anyone you know are having suicidal thoughts, please call the toll-free Kid’s Help Line at 1-800-668-6868 or the toll-free Suicide Prevention Line at 1-888-429-8167. Also please check out this website, and this list of warning signs. In a post on April 11, I raised...

"I’ve never considered myself a moron before," writes a hapless dishwasher owner in Portland Hills,  Dartmouth, "but my blind faith in Sears proves I should have my mittens tied together with a string, and I should only eat with spoons, as I could easily lose an eye if I tried a fork." The unnamed customer is so distraught over fruitless attempts to get the venerable appliance giant to furnish a working dish washer, he's offering to sell it for the price of the sushi takeout he and his wife ordered Friday night: $57.50. But after 4,300 hits to his viral-bound washer-for-sale...

Not surprisingly, yesterday's Contrarian post on the furore over Rehtaeh Parsons' death has produced a lot of email, pro and con. Much of the angry reaction appeared on Twitter, where Contrarian tweets as @kempthead. Before sampling the reader response, two important preliminaries: What Rehtaeh's family has been through this week is about as awful as human experience gets. They have been loyal in support of their daughter, and courageous in their rejection of vigilante action against those accused of abusing her. Whatever one's views on the issues I raised, compassion for this family ought to be universal. As I said yesterday,  if you or...

"To love someone," wrote Jean Vanier, "is to show them their beauty, their worth, and their importance." That can be a tall order, but a few Halifax members of the Asperger's Syndrome Parents' Empowerment Network give it a good shot in this short video, produced by Halifax filmmakers John Hillis, Michael MacDonald, Caley MacLennan, Kimberlee McTaggert, Andrew Starzomski, and Amy Spurway: H/T: Valerie Patterson...