I wish to talk about council’s latest decision to postpone making a mission statement of inclusivity and Mr. Nagel’s rationale for voting against this motion.
Council stated that they needed more time to ensure the ‘scope’ of this policy, fair enough, but wouldn’t the draft of this inclusion policy provide some of these details that you could then debate without causing further delays?
Mr. Nagel is reported to have stated, “I am a huge believer in equality” but then added the qualifier that, ‘the best way to achieve it (equality) is not to talk about it’. In fairness to Mr. Nagel he did not specifically use those last words, he focused on not talking about/bringing attention to our differences as the best way to promote equality, but to me that qualification means little because the result is the same.
A tough, potentially divisive conversation will inevitably include a discussion on our differences. But consider this; only those that share a position of privilege get to ‘choose’ to have a discussion about inclusivity where others are forced to live with the effects of those ‘differences’ every day.
Mr. Nagel incites general fears of government encroachment and links these fears to social policy by stating, “the government has no role in shaping and controlling culture” within the discussion of making a mission statement of inclusivity.
But if we took this argument to its logical conclusion we could have still have slavery laws in the US and we would never have legislation like the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms here in Canada. The Charter provides broad equality rights and basic freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
But even with laws in place, not everyone shares the same access to those protections and intolerance survives. At the very least, more discussion is needed.
I’m a trained social worker that has over 20 years working with different groups of people. It is my experience that ALL people want to be heard, to be understood and to be considered equals. When you refuse to have a conversation because it might be difficult or offend someone, you take away their voice. This forced silence is deafening to someone in the ‘minority’ group and cripples a discussion of inclusion.
Silence not only helps perpetuate cycles of intolerance but has the same effect on domestic violence, drug abuse, racism, sexism, elder abuse etc.
I’m not suggesting that Mr. Nagel is willingly playing political games by trying to appease everyone with his comments; I’m only trying to add my perspective to the conversation that Ms. Fedeyko has started. I’m confident that, regardless of your personal beliefs, further conversation about inclusivity is possible in a constructive, not divisive debate.