What You Can Do to Help
Here are some ways you can make a huge difference.
Every contribution, no matter how brief, makes a difference.
- Phone, email or even visit the candidates' offices in your riding. Later in this Action Kit are ideas of what you might say to them.
- Go to a local all-candidates' debate in or near your riding. These are a great place for grassroots democracy. These usually are held at a school, church or community hall. You can find out when and where an all-candidates' debate will be held by contacting any local candidate's campaign office.
- Meet the candidates. Ask a brief, punch question about the Canadians with Disabilities Act during the debate. Ask each candidate to support the enactment of this legislation. Later in this Action Kit, we offer ideas of what you might ask.
- Spread the word about the campaign for the Canadians with Disabilities Act on social media like Twitter and Facebook. These social media give you great new ways to reach candidates, voters and news organizations during election campaigns. Later in this kit, we give you sample tweets you might wish to use on Twitter and/or Facebook.
We and others are tweeting about this issue on Twitter. Just search for the hashtag
#CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct and you will see all our tweets.
You can "like" our Facebook page, which is at www.facebook.com/barrierfreeca. Share our posts on that page with your Facebook friends.
Once we have posted this Election Action Kit on our website at www.barrierfreecanada.org you can spread the word about his election Action Kit via Twitter and Facebook, by sharing the link.
Tweet candidates in your riding or elsewhere to ask where they stand on a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Just include the Twitter name in the Tweet. Among our sample tweets later in this Action Kit are ones individually addressed to Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair.
On a smart phone or digital camera, take photos or videos of any accessibility barriers you find at candidates' offices, forums and other election events. Share those photos on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Use a smart phone to make video or audio recordings of candidate when they answer questions about a Canadians with Disabilities Act, at all-candidates forums or other campaign events. Post those videos for free on YouTube. Then you can share the YouTube link to your video via social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Talk to your friends, family and colleagues about the need for a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Tell them what the parties have said so far about this issue. Urge them to consider this issue when deciding on their vote.
Call your local radio or TV station, and your local newspaper. Tell them about disability accessibility barriers that impede you or others you know, especially in areas like air and train travel, banking, cable or telephone services, Canada post, or dealing with the Federal government. Call in to call-in shows. Write letters to the editor. If you are especially eager, write a guest column and urge your local newspaper to print it.
What you Might Say to Candidates, Media Reporters and the Public
It is best if you say it in your own words, not ours. However, if you don't have time to re-phrase our suggestions, just use them as is!
Give examples of barriers that we need a Canadians with Disabilities Act to fix, such as accessibility problems at airports, or when taking flights within Canada or on flights that start or end in Canada; when trying to use services of the Government of Canada; with Canada Post services; using banks in Canada, or when trying to vote in a Canadian election.
Explain why you or others should not have to fight these accessibility barriers one at a time, by launching a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, or by suing in court under the Charter of Rights.
More accessibility is good for all Canadians. We all get a disability as we age. These barriers hurt our economy, are bad for business, and create an unnecessary burden on the public purse.
Be brief - candidates and news reporters are extremely busy during election campaigns.
Be personal. People remember stories better than statistics. By sharing a bit about your own situation, you make this issue far more memorable and compelling.
Tips for Phoning or Visiting a Candidate's Campaign Office
Usually, a receptionist or campaign volunteer will take your call. The candidate is likely out knocking on doors to meet voters. Here is what you might say when they answer your call or meet you at their campaign office. You should try to get the receptionist or volunteer interested in a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Campaign staff and volunteers have their own experience with disability accessibility barriers.
Sample Campaign Office Conversation
ME: Hello, my name is [insert name] and I'm a voter and constituent of [insert riding]. I'd like to speak with the candidate to introduce myself. Would he/she be available?
RECEPTIONIST: No, he/she is out at the moment. Can I take a message?
ME: Yes, please. My name is [insert name], and I'm a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability advocating for Parliament to enact a Canadians with Disability Act. I can be reached at [insert number]
I want to know your Party's position on this issue, and to know what this candidate's personal position is. I am eager to know if the candidate will support the call from Canadians with disabilities that the next Parliament pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act. We need this law to make Canada become fully accessible to all people with disabilities, as much as the Canadian Government can make this happen. It would be great if you can let the candidate know about this issue.
Note: It is helpful to try to convince a campaign staff member or volunteer. If they get excited about this issue, they can call their campaign headquarters and help advance the issue.
When Talking to a Candidate Wherever You Meet Them
Emailing a Candidate:
ME: My name is [insert name] and I am a voter in [insert riding]. I'm also a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability trying to get the federal government to pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act.
You may not realize this, but there are over 4 million Canadians with disabilities and this number is expected to grow to 9 million in the next 15 years. Disability affects everyone. Everyone gets a disability as they grow older.
Canadians with disabilities continue to face barriers in areas that the federal government can address, like air travel, federal government services, banking, Canada Post, phone and cable companies, and other telecommunications. A Canadians with Disabilities Act would set standards for accessibility so we can start removing these barriers without private individuals having to battle these barriers privately, one at a time.
We would like your Party to promise to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act.
Will you contact your party leader and try to get them to make the pledge? Would you personally support this kind of law? Would you let others in your party know that this issue is important to you constituents.
Email is a quick and easy way to get your message to candidates. However, candidates often have staff or volunteers monitor email accounts for them. If you want to be sure you're reaching the candidate him/herself, it is best to email them and then phone their campaign office.
Dear [insert name]
As an engaged citizen, I would like to congratulate you on your decision to run for public office. There will be plenty of issues being discussed over the next few weeks, and as a person with a disability/family member or friend of someone with a disability, I would like to raise a few points about the need for a Canadians with Disabilities Act.
[Feel free to insert a paragraph about your personal connection to disability]
Today there are more than 4 million Canadians with disabilities and this number is expected to grow to 9 million over the next 15 years. These citizens continue to face unnecessary barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction such as federal government services, air travel, cable TV and phone services, Canada Post, banking and telecommunications. These barriers mean that all Canadians can't fully participate in life.
Existing disability protections like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation require citizens to fight to remove barriers one at a time. A Canadians with Disabilities Act would set out accessibility standards so that all barriers are systematically removed over time.
Will you support the passage of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act? Will you urge your party leader to do the same? I would appreciate if you would tell others in your party that this issue is important to your constituents.
Tips for Attending a Local All-Candidates' Debate/Forum:
Some all-candidates debates let you ask a question from the floor. Others require you to write it out and submit it. Either way, you should write it out in advance, to make sure it is short, punch and to the point. If the event's format presents accessibility challenges, let the organizers know. You may even wish to highlight your own challenges as part of your question.
ME: My Name is [insert name], and I live in this riding. More than 4 million Canadians have disabilities. This will grow to more than 9 million as the population ages. They face unfair accessibility barriers in areas of federal jurisdiction like federal government services, Canada post, air travel, banking, phone and cable TV companies, and telecommunications.
My question for all the candidates is:
If elected, will your party support the enactment of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act so that the federal government will do what it can to ensure that barriers facing people with disabilities are removed once and for all?
Will you personally support the enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act and ask your party leader to do the same?
Tweets You Might Wish to Send on Twitter or Facebook
Canada Election is on!
Join campaign 4 #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct
@PMHarper Do you support passing #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct?
http://barrierfreecanada.org/home/ #accessibility #AODA
@JustinTrudeau Do you support passing #CanadianWithDisabilitiesAct?
http://barrierfreecanada.org/home/ #accessibility #AODA
@ThomasMulcair Do you support passing #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct?
http://barrierfreecanada.org/home/ #accessibility #AODA
Ontario passed #accessibility law. Then Manitoba, NS working on 1! Maybe BC?
Gr8 @GlobalNewsstory inicolasGlobal: @BarrierFreeCa call4
#CanadiansWithDisabilitiesActhttp://globalnews.ca/video/2027172/woman-gets-back=-lost-wheelchair-from-sunwing-damaged #accessibilityMeet BarrierFreeCanada @barrierfreeca
campaigning for #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct www.barrierfreecanada.org #accessibility
Please visit www.barrierfreecanada.org Register support for passing #CanadiansWithDisabilitiesAct #accessibility