I contacted my Member of Parliament Ed Holder’s office yesterday to inquire about taking part in the processing of Bill C-54. After I forwarded one of my blog entries on the subject, I was informed that I might send my Curriculum Vitae to the Minister of Justice but they didn’t know if I would be successful. I was always under the impression that democracy was both interactive and inclusive.
To request a Curriculum Vita from an average citizen causes me to question who the government listens to and represents. In Canada, a Curriculum Vitae is a professional document which many psychiatric consumers would find exclusive and intimidating. It is a document usually reserved for lawyers, executives, professors, physicians and scientists. I am pleased this government calls on the expertise it is obviously lacking but Bill C-54 would benefit from input from individuals with lived experience.
I assume my Member of Parliament is confident in the fact that I and most citizens do not possess a professional history. I have no academic credentials, my publications are not academic, I have no research experience and my contributions and significant achievements pale in comparison to most.
Why does my government suggest I list my professional licenses and certifications? Why does my government request I list my scientific and academic research? Why does my government suggest I list the papers, books and publications I have written? Why does my government require my thesis or dissertation? Am I not enough as a citizen? What purpose is there in discouraging my voice?
I believe I am qualified to speak to the issue. I may be a common voice but I have had an uncommon experience and posses an uncommon perspective clearly not considered. I do not belong to any professional associations but that does not mute my 34 years of psychiatric experience.
I have always had the utmost respect for individuals with letters in front of or behind their names. They are hard fought and earned. At the same time I consider lived experience to be important. No physician can think or calculate their way into what I have experienced. It is one thing to walk the halls with a clipboard until 5 p.m. It is quite another to hear the key turn as you remain behind.
Are all citizens interested in contributing to democracy dissuaded or is it because of my apparent disability? It is distasteful either way. This is not a note of surrender. I will come up with a Curriculum Vita. Curriculum Vitae in Latin is “the course of my life.” If that is not enough it will be a shame on my government and a kick to us all.