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Is Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion Tour doing more harm than good?

The Story

Why should Rick Hansen have to wheel around the world to raise money for spinal cord research? Does medical research in Canada really hinge on such superhuman efforts? Why are a growing number of disabled people upset with Hansen? In this CBC Television clip, The Fifth Estate attempts to answer these questions as it takes a critical look at the Man In Motion Tour.

The cupboard in Ottawa is painfully bare, but when Hansen visits Ottawa, Prime Minister Mulroney bypasses his cabinet, and pledges $1 million to the Man In Motion Tour. A year earlier, the federal government sank only $50,000 into spinal cord research. Paraplegics like Judith Snow accuse Ottawa of making political hay before an election. Surely politicians aren't going to ride on the back of Rick Hansen to win votes? "Why not?" asks Snow. Ray Wickson runs a private agency for spinal cord patients. He thinks the Tour is a sham because it gives people who make a donation an easy out, and lets Ottawa off the hook from tackling the real, everyday problems of normal disabled people. "The government gives lip service to the disabled," says Wickson. "Hansen will go across the country, he will get a lot of attention for spinal cord injuries, for what he's doing and then when it's over, it's all over. Period." Is Hansen setting the standard too high for disabled people? "I think that's short-sighted," answers Hansen. "People are not looking at the positive way we want the tour to affect them. I believe in the tour, and I believe in what it's going to accomplish." 

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: Jan. 6, 1987
Guest(s): Harvey Anderson, Alan Arlett, Peter Cavanagh, George Cohon, Jake Epp, Rick Hansen, Norman Kuntz, Judith Snow
Reporter: Eric Malling
Duration: 29:00

Did You know?

• Not everybody agreed with Peter Kavanagh's criticism that Rick Hansen was doing more harm than good. In 1989, the Manning Awards Foundation honoured Hansen with the Award of Distinction for his efforts to increase public awareness of the potential and abilities of the disabled. The award was named after Canadian statesman Ernest C. Manning.


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