Speaking for Himself: Mauril Belanger’s Ableist Triumph

It’s a good day to be Canadian, folks!

This morning, Mauril Belanger, a Veteran Liberal MP who lost his voice to ALS made history twice. This article details his triumph over his (dis?)ABILITY, and the incredible moment in which The Speechless became The Speaker, something that had never before happened in Canadian politics.

Watch the historic moment here:

Belanger used his iPad to “speak”, using text-to-speech technology, re-introducing his bill from 2014, demanding that the Canadian National Anthem be changed to completely gender-neutral terms (another historic feat).

What really got me, though, was that for him, it wasn’t the historical significance of his crossing the lines of Ableism this morning that was most important, it was something else…

“Through my daily efforts and the efforts of my personnel, we have provided assistance to more than 10,000 people living in Ottawa-Vanier with cases such as immigration, taxes, citizenship, work, housing, pensions, among other things,” Belanger said.

“This is what I am most proud of.”

I chose to include this article in my Newscrawl as I feel it is a shining example of Ableism, and brings about some interesting points in regards to the role of the (dis?)ABLED in the “real world.”

In the reading, The Promise of Disability by Tanya Titchkosky, we are asked to re-examine our conceptualization of what it means to classify people by their conditions and abilities (or lack thereof). Titchkosky makes the argument that “All of us come with conditions, and there is no such thing as conditions with promising possibilities without their accompanying limits, nor can there be a limit that does not have its promising possibilities.” 

In essence, she says that we shouldn’t look at disabilities as disabilities, but rather we should look at them as possibilities. She gives the example of how her dyslexia has allowed for more collective forms of reading in her classroom, and a new appreciation for the words, and word order. She also goes a step further by implying that there is no “normal” and a resulting “other” that is not “normal.”

I thought the Liberal MP’s actions spoke to her message exactly.

In choosing to view his (dis?)ABILITY as a possibility, he was able to “voice” his concerns about gender and the national anthem, and push forward his agenda using technology, all while single-handedly demolishing Ableist Assumptions in the very nature of the position he was assigned for the day – Speaker.

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AND if that’s not all, he doesn’t allow his abilities, or even his possibilities define who he is, or what he’s able to achieve, or what his goals or his proudest accomplishments are.

That, my friends, is Ableism.

Thanks, Canada.

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