Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I would have voted #Brexit.

I should have written this post in a more timely manner...oops.

I would have been one of the anomalous progressive young adults who voted for the UK to leave the European Union. My imaginary vote would have had nothing to do with xenophobia and everything to do with democracy. I like the idea of triggering a series of sweeping policy changes at once.

During my lifetime, there will be no better context to meaningfully renegotiate the citizen/state relationship in Britain than Brexit. NIMBY immigration policies are complete bullshit, but broadening and deepening the social contract in the UK will not be guided by those radical minority ideas.

Progressives have many to celebrate the forthcoming policy changes. In the crassest of descriptions, Brexit is going to lay down some serious real talk on the status quo.

Foremost, new trade agreements will be written in the context of general consensus surrounding human-causes of climate crises, alarming job loss to automation, and the transition to slow and no growth economics. Brexit will acquiesce to the reality that regional self-sufficiency becomes more viable as the social and environmental costs of international trade are internalized.

The successful Brexit campaign shows that internationalism as an inherent good is too abstract of a concept to maintain broad public support. Partaken in exclusively under the condition of sovereign consent, international cooperation, aid, and trade access are the fruit charity, not duty. In the absence of a legitimate world government, domestic affairs will always top political priorities.

Brexit demonstrated that deified neoliberal policy can fall out of favor and be democratically defeated. Economists are not the overlords of the UK they thought they were. Since the Brexit vote, the "value" of the British economy has tanked, but what the fuck does that mean for real people?

Nothing. The rich are still rich; the poor are still poor, and the government is still bureaucratic.

I was genuinely excited about the success of the Brexit campaign because democracy worked. I applaud the Brexit campaign as a project of renegotiating consensus. I hate the racist reasons that motivated many UK citizens to vote Brexit, but the reinvigoration of citizen engagement is an undeniably positive outcome.

I have to be optimistic that logic and humanism will underscore the ongoing dialogue of UK politics. The British brain trust has the opportunity to address domestic wealth inequalities and accept that the challenge of indefinite existence will push humanity toward rigorous planning of economies.

Finally, to the UK youth whining about having nominally harder time living and working in continental Europe, suck it up. The loss of EU mobility is literally the definition of #firstworldproblems.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Banning Police From Pride Parades Will Cost Progressives

Calls to ban uniformed police officers from queer pride parades are the most divisive actions progressives have seen in a generation. While I’m well versed in politics of epistemic colonialism and white supremacy, the average Canadian is not. I understand the desire activists have to problematize policing practices, but I question the strategic value of this particular demand.

Say they “win” and all uniformed police are banned from pride parades coast to coast. So what? Now what? Did the lives of racialized, indigenous, and otherwise disadvantaged people tangibly improve?

Prioritizing the demand of police exclusion is choosing symbolic victory over measurable improvements in quality of life. Police exclusion from pride parades gets us no closer to living wages, basic income, national pharmacare, prison abolition, or less problematic enforcement of the rule of law.

The stinging problem is that activists are ceding the discourse of common sense to right-leaning punditry. Their critics need only mutter a single phrase to derail all the great work they’ve achieved: “unrepresentative radicalized minority of Canadians”. With five words, all their work is written off as dismissable impractical ideology.

We live in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are an iconic internationally recognized institution. Only months ago in Moncton, New Brunswick, we commemorated the second anniversary of three Mounties slain in the line of duty in bronze. We also boast significantly less gun violence than our neighbours to the south.

It would be naive to describe the tension calling for police exclusion from pride parades as anything other than a spin war. With deadly terror attacks becoming regular occurrences in our news cycles, police forces will not lose in the Canadian court of public opinion.

As Tyrion Lannister said, “We make peace with our enemies, not with our friends.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

RE: Wheelchairs Aren't Luggage

Dear Marc Garneau, Minister of Transportation

I am writing you today because of an unacceptable accessibility deficit in Canadian air travel regulations. I am a longstanding friend with Tim Rose, who recently was interviewed as part of several Toronto news features for his hardships trying to book an Air Canada flight direct from Toronto to Cleveland, Ohio for business purposes. Despite my personal connection to the story, accessibility issues in air travel are limited to neither Tim nor Air Canada.

The unnamed and unshamed problem is that structural ableism goes deplorably unchallenged by Canadian air travel policy. The speed of technological advancement is constantly redefining what reasonable accommodation for (dis)abled people means in practice, and transportation authorities have a duty to reflect the most modern capabilities of offering identical services wherever possible and equitable services where not.

Air Canada is not accommodating Tim Rose by offering to substitute the plane assigned to the Toronto-Cleveland route for a model that would meet his travel requirements, because to do so in the absence of a requirement would result in lost profit. I see no ethical argument that a policy of plane substitution isn't the best practice to achieve accessibility, but there is inaction because status quo air travel policy justifies discrimination by design as profitable.

As Minister of Transportation, you have the authority to craft air travel policy in which equity is a consideration throughout decision making, not an after thought that cracks under the pressure of profit motive. I implore you to harmonize Canadian human rights laws with common sense air travel policy and impose a requirement that all new aircraft purchases meet diligent accessibility standards. Further, Canadians deserve an expedient timeline to transition air fleets to capacities where plane substitution for wheelchair users is offered as a reasonable accommodation.

The end goal of accessible air travel policy is a fully accessible fleet. A reasonable timeline to achieve substitution-capable and then fully accessible fleets is unclear. I do not claim expertise in aircraft engineering or airline management, but I hope that you mindfully weigh input from industry leaders against the discrimination by design that continues for tens of thousands of Canadians, like my friend Tim, who just want to travel for business and pleasure like their ambulatory peers.


A sexy bunch of Carleton University Alumni at Tim & Natalie's wedding.