Mobilize March -- Travel Blog

Day 17 — Inroads and Allies

I don’t have too much to say tonight (shocker, I know) but what I do have to report is positive news for sure. I spent most of this morning crafting a letter to the London City Council to once again implore them to pass the proposal to license more accessible cabs in London. I didn’t expect the letter to take too long, but I’m adamant that the letter has to be perfect, so it’s taking a lot longer than originally expected. Anyway, I’m hoping to get it locked down within the next day or so and transmitted to the appropriate parties by early next week. I really believe that in London, adding more accessible cabs will not only open things up for people with disabilities, but will be a water shed moment for accessibility. By adding more cabs, the proof will be in the pudding that not only did we need more accessible transportation but that we still have a long way to go–which is okay, because we will now have the stats necessary to empower and enable our City Councilors to pursue some more aggressive and lofty accessibility goals.

The real important thing that happened today, however, was our meeting with MP Brad Duguid. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this meeting and I was definitely stoically nervous heading in. I’m not exactly sure why…perhaps I knew this was going to be a big one. Anyway, Brad is an unbelievably compassionate and educated man who genuinely wants the best for his constituents.

We had a really good chat about accessible transportation and right from the word go, in fact I think it may have been one of the first things out of his mouth, was “How can I help?”Pete, Sam, Brad and Jeff One thing that really struck me about Brad was his comprehension of the issues and his uncompromising resolve that accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do to “help” the disabled, but that accessibility is a right, protected in law, that we have a duty to provide. I was astonished when Brad explained how passionately he feels about accessibility, especially when it comes to the private section. Until recently, mandating accessibility in the private sector has always been tricky business–it’s really tough to mandate and legislate the private sector without causing quite a stir. But as Brad explained, the right to accessibility transcends ownership or commerce–we, as citizens of this great province, have the right to participate in the economy and in our communities, just like everyone else, something that can often be difficult because of the structural and architectural barriers prevalent in our communities (especially those with older downtown cores). Furthermore, Brad passionately believes that by opening up these spaces, we can break down not just the physical barriers but also the attitudinal misconceptions about what it means to be disabled.

Without repeating myself too much, I will simply say that I was really impressed by what Brad had to say and I really look forward to seeing him again next week at Queens Park. He is going to be a great ally over the next few months and I look forward to working closer with him.

Oh and not only was he a huge advocate for the disabled population, but he’s also an admitted Toronto Maple Leaf fan! Can you imagine? I know, I was shocked too. A man after my heart, for sure.

More is on the horizon, I’ll be updating the itinerary with a bunch of new events tomorrow afternoon so keep an eye out!

Until tomorrow…

– Jeff

By Jeffrey Preston

Born with a rare neuromuscular myopathy, Jeff has spent his life dedicated to advocating for himself and others with disabilities. With a PhD in Media Studies from Western University, Jeff's research focuses on the representation of disability in popular and digital culture. Jeff is currently an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at King's University College @ Western University in London, ON.