Editorials - Dec. 22, 2023
Middling moves forward
The Catholic church is beginning a slow shift in tone to a more moderate, gentler stance on same-sex couples. Although same-sex marriages are still not recognized, the Pope has issued a new document that will now allow priests to “bless” same-sex and “irregular” couples, under certain circumstances.
While blessings should not be part of regular church rituals or related to civil unions or weddings, the Vatican feels now that this should be a sign that “God welcomes all” and people receiving a blessing “should not be required to have prior moral perfection”, an indication that it is really still a case of “love the sinner, hate the sin”, with little progress towards acceptance.
It seems to be a position that, while intended to soften the traditional treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, will possibly alienate everyone. The LGBTQ+ and their generally liberal-minded allies are likely to feel that, without the recognition of marriage, the new policy doesn’t go far enough, while the more conservative members of the church, who have been taught for generations that same-sex relationships are sinful, will feel betrayed by this sudden change. – DS
A cracked veneer
Last week, Toronto City Council went on a naming binge. If it was a thing that could be named, council was naming it last week. You might even have a new name thanks to council. Check your e-mail.
Council pulled the trigger on the long-debated renaming of Yonge-Dundas Square to remove any reference to Henry Dundas, a British Minister who wasn’t necessarily part of the solution in regards to slavery. In the same (political) breath, council voted to rename the football stadium at Centennial Park after late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
While The Citizen couldn’t definitively clear Ford of wrongdoing in the slave trade in the late 1700s and early 1800s, he has done plenty in the recent past to call into question his validity as one deserving of a stadium naming. He was filmed using disgusting language on multiple occasions, whether it be of a racist, homophobic or sexist nature, and then, of course, there was the crack and all of that illegality.
While the street- and square-namers of the day could be forgiven for not being completely dialed in on some of the more unsavoury aspects of Henry Dundas, one simply needs access to YouTube to know all about Ford’s legacy. It seems foolhardy at best by Toronto City Council to name a stadium after such a complicated and polarizing figure.
Ignorance could be used as a defence in the Dundas naming, but with Ford, council will have nowhere else to turn. They know all there is to know about Ford, who passed away in 2016, and they named a stadium after him anyway. It’s hard not to draw a direct, head-scratching line between the two naming decisions and see one as enlightened and progressive and the other as offensive and misguided.
Then again, it could just be a lesson for the kids out there. Smoke crack, kiddos, you may end up with your name on a stadium. – SL
Accessible for all
In 2005, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government passed legislation to make Ontario accessible for all of its people. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) set standards that public and private organizations will be required to meet to ensure that no person is prevented from participating in any aspect of life in this province due to personal circumstances.
Transforming buildings, adapting spaces and removing barriers is a complex process that requires sufficient time, appropriate consultation and meticulous planning to execute properly, so AODA compliance won’t come into effect until the very distant future - 2025. With the luxury of two full decades to complete the monumental task, McGuinty focused on other priorities, like cancelling gas plants and squandering an enormous amount of taxpayer cash that would have been better spent strategically planning for the implementation of the AODA’s ambitious goals and gathering data and research on people living with disabilities.
In June of this year, a scathing report came out detailing the woeful progress being made toward achieving the AODA’s expectations. With the clock ticking quickly toward 2025, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government took six months to make the report publicly available. Recently, Ford has been busy reversing several of his government’s hastily planned policies. He’s also made arrangements for alcohol to be sold in convenience stores by 2026, so anyone with a disability looking to pick up “brewskis” at the corner store will be in luck, as long as the store is, hopefully, accessible.
The report says the state of accessibility in Ontario is in “crisis” and that both the current and previous governments lacked urgency on this file. It is unlikely that the goals of the act will be completed on time.
Having a disability is not a choice, but governments failing to prioritize the AODA is. – SBS