A man hired to advise the P.E.I. government on services
for people with disabilities has resigned, saying he didn't feel his input was
"When they take away your ability to act, and then take
away your right to speak, you have nothing," said Stephen Pate after leaving
his post on the Disability Services Review Committee, which is supposed to
reform the province's disability support program.
Pate resigned two months ago, but only started speaking
publicly about his resignation this past week.
Pate, who uses a wheelchair and has been a longtime
advocate for the disabled, said the decision was "heartbreaking."
He said he was initially very excited to part of the
reform process, but he believes he will get better results while acting as a
critic rather than being part of the government process.
"I think that some people in the government wanted me to
be there to help effect change and I think other people wanted to shut me up,"
said Pate, who has vocally criticized government policies regarding help for
the disabled in the past, and keeps a blog called Disability Alert.
"I think they thought if they got me on the committee then
there wouldn't be any commentary from Disability Alert on how well or how
poorly the process was going."
In particular, Pate said the advisory committee should
have better reflected the community of people with disabilities by including
representatives such as seniors.
Before the 2007 election, Pate showed up routinely at
the provincial legislature to rail against the policies of the ruling
He followed Tory candidates on the election trail, pushing
for reforms to the disability support program.
He was hired for the committee by the new Liberal
government after they won the election.