Sunday, August 15, 2010

Calgary Mayoral Candidates Ignore Esteemed Colleage

Yesterday’s street festival in Chinatown was a brilliant affair and except for one error, it was a well-planned, very enjoyable event.

However, that one error left MLA for Calgary Buffalo and Calgary mayoral candidate Kent Hehr stranded at ground level and unable to join his colleagues on the stage. The organisers made no effort before hand or day-of to make the stage accessible to Hehr and nobody stepped up to help during the event.

Hehr is wheelchair bound due to having been hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting some 20 years ago. That bullet left Hehr paralysed but has not paralysed his career or his civic involvement.

Yesterday, with the entire slough of dignitaries and candidates on stage, Hehr was forced to stay beside the stage, on the ground and hidden from view, unrecognized by the MC and excluded from the ribbon-cutting ceremony and photos of the event.

This is a glaring oversight and a slap in the face of one of Calgary’s most significant figures.

The organisers owe Mr. Hehr a public apology certainly as do Mr. Hehr’s colleagues. It speaks VOLUMES about the other candidates and dignitaries that they did nothing at all to see that their esteemed college was not excluded.

There were PLENTY of able bodies up on that stage and had any of them had a thought beyond getting their mugshot done, they could have easily found a solution to Mr. Hehr’s forced dilemma.

It is embarrassing and a very poor reflection on such people that they so pointedly ignored the needs of a colleague; one must ask how that ignorance translates to the lesser-known who also have accessibility needs.

I want to make THIS perfectly clear: I have nothing at all against any of these people personally. I know most of them quite well and like them all very much.

I don't ascribe any malice to any of them. I do, however, question how they could so blatantly ignore the fact that Kent was right there, below them all, while they were up on stage.

He is a colleague; he has been part of civic and provincial politics for ages and he had spoken yesterday, still from the ground, so they couldn't have not known he was there. I must say, the one comment I received so far today was of the "Wasn't Me," variety.

WHY didn't anyone think to make sure he had his deserved place on stage with his colleagues?

I hope some or all of the dignitaries and candidates who were on the dais yesterday will step up, acknowledge this oversight and make public apologies to Kent.

Druh Farrell

Ric McIver

Jon Lord

Wayne Stewart

Craig Burrows

Wayne Cao

Also on site: Richard Gotfried

Kent Hehr



4 comments:

  1. I think you had been twittering about lifting his wheelchair onto the stage - that could have been quite dangerous, both for Hehr, and for the people doing the lifting. Those powered chairs are very heavy; had Hehr rolled off the edge, he could have been seriously injured.

    It was unfortunate that the ribbon cutting couldn't have been done at ground level to accommodate him, but a real risk to have lifted him up. I doubt he would have asked for that, either.

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  2. In all of Chinatown there was no platform? Seriously?

    There are delivery platforms everywhere down there - the could easily have been placed so that Kent could access the stage.

    BUT WHY didn't the organisers remember that not everyone walks? That should have been part of baseline planning!

    I agree lifting Kent would have probably endangered him but that fact that nobody did anything before hand to see that he was accommodated is just sickening.

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  3. Well, that's Chinatown for you. Largely inaccessible, generally speaking. Doesn't surprise me that they'd forget about stuff like that for a presentation.

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