Paru le jeudi 10 janvier 2008 sur CCD
For Immediate Release January 10, 2008
Reaction to Landmark Canadian Transportation Agency Decision:
Disabled Canadians Jubilant to Have Transport Barrier Removed
Winnipeg, January 10, 2008 – Today the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) released a landmark decision concerning the right of individuals with disabilities to travel by air without having to pay for a second seat, for an attendant or other use, to accommodate their disability. In a historic decision in the “One Person, One Fare” case, the agency has recognized the right of these individuals to have access to a second seat when traveling by air in Canada without having to pay a second fare.
“Canadians with disabilities are celebrating today,” said Pat Danforth, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities Transportation Committee. Joanne Neubauer, one of the principal complainants in the case, agreed. “We hope that this decision sends a strong message to all transportation carriers,” she said. “Access is the rule.”
The CTA decision acknowledged the importance of a number of established human rights principles underlying the arguments of the complainants in the case, noting that these principles dictate that persons with disabilities have the same rights as others to full participation in all aspects of society and that equal access to transportation is critical to their exercise of that right.
“The Canadian Transportation Agency recognized the fundamental soundness of our arguments, which have a strong foundation in existing human rights jurisprudence,” said David Baker of bakerlaw, legal counsel for the complainants in the case. “While the number of people who will benefit and the actual cost to the airlines are larger than in any previous case, the principles applied by the Agency in its decision were clearly established by the Supreme Court of Canada in its March 2007 CCD v. VIA Rail decision,” said David Baker.
Disabled Canadians said the decision had the potential to make an enormous difference in their lives. “This is about independence,” said Sandra Carpenter of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto. “It’s about our ability to be part of Canadian society and to have barriers to our participation removed.”
The decision was many years in coming – the late Eric Norman, Joanne Neubauer, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities filed the original complaint with the CTA in 2002, seeking to establish a situation of equality for passengers with disabilities who travel with attendants.
For many years, Canadians with disabilities traveling by train, bus or marine service have been permitted to use a second seat without cost when one was required. But airlines such as Air Canada, Westjet, and Jazz have not been bound to obey this policy, meaning that many Canadians with disabilities have been forced to effectively pay double what others pay to fly.
Now that all seems set to change.
“We have been looking for some good news in the transport industry for some time,” said Claredon Robicheau, a member of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Transport Committee. “This decision gives us enormous hope that we are once again moving to build an accessible and inclusive Canada.”
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For More Information or Comment on the Decision Contact:
Mr. David Baker, Legal Counsel Ms. Sandra Carpenter, Acting Executive Director,
416-533-0040 Ext 222 Centre for Independent Living in Toronto
416-599-2458 Ext 36
Ms. Joanne Neubauer Mr. Jim Derksen, CCD Policy Advisor
Ms. Pat Danforth, Chair, Mr. Laurie Beachell, National Coordinator CCD
Transportation Committee 204-947-0303
Mr. Claredon Robicheau,
Member CCD Transportation Committee
(available for French interviews)
Paru mardi 15 janvier 2008 sur Canada.com
Robbing (able-bodied) Petra to pay (disabled) Paula
Karen Selick, Special to the National Post
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Darren Stone, CanWest News Service
Joanne Neubauer of Victoria must be happy today. She\\\'s the wheelchair user whose complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) resulted in last week\\\'s decision requiring the airlines to give her a second seat, without charge, for her travelling attendant.
"It means we have the same rights as everyone else," Neubauer said. "I\\\'ve always wanted to go to the Maritimes myself. I\\\'ve seen pictures but I\\\'ve never been, because I haven\\\'t been able to afford [two seats]."
In my view, Neubauer\\\'s satisfaction with this ruling is extremely short-sighted. Ultimately, the erroneous thinking that gave rise to this ruling threatens the security of able-bodied and disabled individuals alike.
The CTA probably had no choice but to rule as it did, given the content of the governing legislation and case precedents. However, Neubauer\\\'s conclusion that she was given the "same rights" as everyone else is incorrect.
The right that able-bodied passengers have is to consume whatever services an airline willingly provides at a particular price -- in other words, the right to engage in voluntary trade. The disabled now have something different -- the legal power to consume services in excess of what an airline willingly provides at that price. They have the power to coerce others into parting with their property, against their will.
This power is clearly a privilege, not a right. If it were a right, everyone would have it -- universality is what distinguishes rights from privileges. But if everyone had it, Canadian society would rapidly disintegrate into the chaos, brutality and destitution that characterizes societies where private property is not secure but can be seized against the owner\\\'s will by whoever comes along with superior power.
The philosophical error underlying this ruling is the widely held notion that justice consists in our following Lady Luck around and trying to undo what we perceive to be her injustices. Neither Air Canada nor WestJet (the defendants in this case) had anything to do with causing Neubauer\\\'s rheumatoid arthritis. Most likely, nobody did. Neubauer was simply unlucky in falling victim to this crippling condition.
No matter how we may seethe against the seeming unfairness of her situation, we must accept that there is no element of morality or justice involved. Lady Luck is not an entity -- merely a metaphor. But morality and justice are concepts that apply only in judging the deliberate actions of conscious entities. We don\\\'t call a tree immoral or unjust if it falls and kills someone. Trees aren\\\'t conscious and their falling is not deliberate.
The fact that Neubauer became disabled through sheer bad luck is morally neutral. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the CTA\\\'s decision to shift the burden of Neubauer\\\'s disability to others. In concert with the lawmakers who passed the Canada Transportation Act and the judiciary that has interpreted those laws, the CTA has taken deliberate steps to harm others who are innocent of any wrongdoing. If the airlines raise fares for other passengers, then it is other blameless travellers who will be victimized by this decision. If the airlines absorb the costs themselves, then it will be their shareholders who are victimized.
Surely, we must acknowledge that deliberately harming innocent bystanders is not an act of justice -- that it is morally wrong no matter how sympathetic or appealing the intended beneficiary may be. Otherwise, the thug who steals your wallet in a dark alley and gives the money to his ailing grandmother should be lauded as an agent of justice rather than punished as a criminal.
Nor does it help that the state\\\'s decision to redistribute wealth has been made using the democratic process. If democracy remedied this injustice, then two thugs in the dark alley could justify taking your wallet simply by letting you vote with them on it, and outvoting you two to one.
The moral course of action for people to take if they wish to help the disabled is to donate their own resources, not to commandeer someone else\\\'s for that purpose. Charities like Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, for example, convert voluntary donations into invaluable assistance to blind people. Neubauer would have done a genuine service, rather than a disservice, to the country if she had organized a similar voluntary organization to fund travel expenses for the disabled.
As for that trip to the Maritimes, I\\\'ll bet there are many able-bodied people in Victoria who can\\\'t afford it either. The proper course of action in such circumstances is to save up until you can. Neubauer apparently expects to be able to save enough for one ticket. She should simply save twice as long and buy two.
-Karen Selick is a lawyer in Belleville.
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