April 22, 1999
Monday, April 26, 1999: For Immediate Release
Ontarians With Disabilities Act Committee
IS HARRIS GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTING TO RE-WRITE ITS 1995 ELECTION PROMISE TO ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES?
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 26, 1999: Responding to questions from members of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee and a CBC Reporter after last Thursday's Throne Speech, Ontario Citizenship Minister Isabel Bassett attempted to radically rewrite Premier Harris' 1995 election promise to people with disabilities. Minister Bassett said that the Premier had only promised to introduce the Ontarians with Disabilities Act into the Legislature and that he fulfilled this promise by introducing the three-page Bill 83 last November.
"We must set the record straight", said David Lepofsky, Chair of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, the non-partisan disability coalition to which Premier Harris made his 1995 election promise. "Premier Harris promised us in clear words that he would enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term, not just that he would go through the technical formality of introducing it into the Legislature for debate".
In his May 24, 1995 letter to the ODA Committee, Premier Harris stated: "As I indicated to you in my response of May 11th, 1995 to the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped questionnaire, a Harris government would be willing to enact an Ontario with Disabilities Act in the first term of office within the economic goalposts of The Common Sense Revolution." One year later, on May 16, 1996, the Ontario Legislature passed a resolution, with unanimous Tory support, calling on the Harris Government to "...keep its promise as set out in the letter from Michael D. Harris to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee dated May 24, 1995 to: ... enact an Ontarians with Disabilities Act within its current term of office ..."
"If Minister Bassett's eleventh-hour revision of history were correct, the Premier's 1995 election pledge to Ontarians with disabilities would have been a hurtful empty sham," said Lepofsky. The ODA Committee has written Premier Harris, calling on him to confirm that he meant what he said in his 1995 election pledge to the ODA Committee, and to urge that he keep this unfulfilled promise before calling an election. "The Premier keeps saying he has kept all his promises", said Lepofsky. "We want this one kept. We don't want it cruelly re-written four years after the fact to the detriment of one and a half million Ontarians with disabilities."
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