Wheelchair access still not fixed at PEI’s biggest public library

Despite falling on my sword trying to resolve wheelchair access at the Confederation Library, CBC are now reporting the problem is not fixed

 PEI’s Confederation Library is not accessible to people in wheelchairs

CBC are reporting that the wheelchair elevator is still not fixed at the Confederation Library. Wheelchair access at library is inadequate, says group.

The story goes back 4 years to September 2009 when The Guardian carried the story and I got ejected from the Press Gallery for my journalism.

We followed the Guardian story with a satire on a whimsical Public Private Partnership between the Province and Richard Homburg. 

For my attempt at levity and nudging progress with humor, CBC and The Guardian ganged up on me and had me ejected from the Press Gallery, the big bullies. Of course, back in 2009 being a bully was OK.

Today the PEI Press Gallery might have to go to the principal’s office and write 100 times on the blackboard “I’m sorry. I will not bully a reporter in a wheelchair.”

Trisha Clarkin of Charlottetown said in September 2009 she cannot access the elevator at the Confederation Centre Library in her scooter without help. (Guardian photo)

I will admit the story was funny, too damned funny and too close to the bone. A friend said I didn’t give the powers-that-be any room to squirm.

Read Government announces solution for disabled access to Confederation Library and give yourself a laugh on April Fools Day.

I did not intended the ironic outcome that Mr. Homburg would soon fall on hard times with receivership engulfing some of his empire. How could one know that back then.

Blackberries must buzzed around Charlottetown after that story. It was only a matter of weeks before Charles MacKay, Clerk of the Legislature got the Guardian’s senior political reporter on the carpet and told him to deal with me.

So in a scene out of some cheap cable television show, the Guardian reporter set about to investigate my crime of writing satirically about the wheelchair elevator at the Confederation Library.

He beguiled me with softball questions like, “I must admit I am getting flack from both the Legislative Assembly and some members of the media regarding a news release sent out from you/Disability Alert last week, re: new elevator funding from the PEI government for the Confederation Centre Library. Can you clarify this issue?”

Clarifying satire seemed dumb to me but I tried. “It’s a satire. Clearly stated in the article and you will note the 4 tree logo has one tree fallen down. Did everyone lose their sense of humor?”

PEI News Release satire banner 300x60 Wheelchair access still not fixed at PEIs biggest public library photo

PEI satirical news release

Apparently they did lose their sense of humor because, the Guardian’s senior political reporter took it upon himself to set up a kangaroo court of the PEI Press Gallery and try me for the sin of making fun of the government over people in wheelchairs who want to borrow books.

I got this very official notice of a trial to be held “to recommend to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island that your membership in the Press Gallery be revoked…The executive has received several complaints about a news release dated Sept. 29, 2009 issued by yourself and NJN Network, among other concerns.”

Golly gosh Batman, a satire is reason for expulsion from PEI’s august Press Gallery. One can assume the press gallery never read Swift, Dickens, nor watched This Hour Has 22 Minutes or Rex.

So the 13 good members of PEI’s press gallery killed the story of the Confederation Library wheelchair access like a freight train smashing the gnat blow.

There is nothing like frothing at the mouth when bullies encircle a guy in a wheelchair.

Two reporters didn’t support the motion to eject me. One of them later admitted the Guardian had hoodwinked them.

Of course, there was more under the covers there, a lot of latent bigotry against me for being an uppity cripple, an outspoken journalist in a wheelchair. That will teach the disabled to stay in their sheltered workshops and not come downtown.

During the kangaroo court, the press gallery told me ten times their real problem was that I advocated for people with disabilities. I have it on tape. It’s actually disgusting to listen to, to hear the PEI journalists and protectors of the public admit they don’t like people with disabilities working beside them.

Media hypocrites

“Media hypocrisy that is driving people away from traditional news sources into the lap of bloggers,” said Paul MacNeill publisher of the Eastern Graphic.

” The devil, they say, is in the details. The Legislative press gallery should have remembered that old adage before ousting controversial blogger Stephen Pate. In their daily jobs gallery members are charged with getting the details right and ensuring proper process is followed. They didn’t do that with Pate. Instead they rushed to turf him without benefit of proper procedure. And in the process only made the press gallery look weak.”

How does one get emotionally connected to this story 4 years later? Having been face to face with the assignment editors at CBC Charlottetown, I find their coverage 4 years later to be ironic at best and cynical at the worst.

It did not surprise me they turned out to be bigots in the Press Gallery: except for a few decent reporters, CBC News is not a nice place. Actually, two of the fair reporters left the poisoned environment of CBC Charlottetown for Halifax, leaving just one good man.

The PEI Council of the Disabled, the City of Charlottetown and the Province must have a solution in the offing. Otherwise why would they embarrass themselves now?

Run out-of-town on a rail

I’m in the wrong town.

I learned my lesson. In Ontario, a journalist and disability advocate like David C. Onley gets appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

The Prime Minister even thank him for being an active disability advocate.

On PEI, they try to run you out-of-town on a rail like a scene from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

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