“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, March 16, 2018


Take courage when you are ridiculed, ostracized, or persecuted by the world for your faith in Christ. It is in Him and through Him that our common bonds of humanity become eternal. We truly become brothers and sisters in the family of God that crosses race, culture, nations, geography or circumstances.

Monday, March 12, 2018


See below. You can book Mark Davis Pickup to speak in your area of Canada or America about euthanasia, disability and assisted suicide, or Christian perspective on suffering. Send email to HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca for more details.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Below is part 4 of Franco Zeffirelli's 1979 film masterpiece JESUS OF NAZARETH.  It takes from Christ's condemnation, crucifixion and resurrection. Robert Powell played Jesus and was supported by an all-star cast including Anne Bancroft,  Christopher Plummer, James Mason, Sir Laurence Olivier and James Earl Jones, to mention a few.

 Here then is part 4 of Jesus of Nazareth.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


In the interests of transparency, let me begin this post by stating that I am opposed to surrogacy. I want to feature a surrogacy story gone bad. We continually hear positive surrogacy experiences. We don't hear much about when surrogacy experiences goes bad. As with so many other issues the secular media keeps from public view -- like the grisly inhumanity of abortion -- this is one.

The U.S. based CENTER FOR BIOETHICS AND CULTURE Network is not such a propaganda vehicle. (God bless them.)  Jennifer Lahl heads the CBC. She recently had a skype interview with a woman whose surrogacy experience was not rosy. That interview is below.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Putting a loved one into a nursing home can be gut-wrenching.  My own family  experienced this. My mother-in-law, Dorothy, was in an Alberta (Canada) nursing home for the six years her life before her death in 2013 at the age of 82. She did not have money to afford private care. My wife and I don't have the financial resources to help so Dorothy went into public system where beds are in short supply.  There were subtle inklings, and not so subtle indicators, things might be amiss. 

My wife was afraid to make too may waves lest Dorothy be the recipient of retaliation. Dorothy had dementia, so she could not tell us if abuse were to occur. Her legs were very weak. Instead of staff helping her to the washroom, they put a lidless commodore beside her bed (near her head). That's where she did her bowel movements. She was supposed to wipe her hands with wipes my wife had to provide. The commode would go days without being emptied. Feces would pile to the lid.  Imagine the stench! My wife would have to ask for a new commode and the process would start over. 

When somebody bought Dorothy something nice. It was apt to disappear. There was theft, although one couldn't prove it. Dorothy had bed sores. Near the end of her life, she developed an infection. Her doctor recommended she be admitted to an acute care hospital. My wife and her sister were Dorothy's only advocates. They were terrified that if Dorothy was admitted to a hospital, she would not come out alive.

If this is what a Canadian elder suffered with an active, attentive advocates, I can't imagine the treatment (or lack of treatment) elders suffer if they have nobody to advocate on their behalf!  No wonder medically assisted suicide can look attractive!

Below is recent program aired across Canada about nursing home abuse. This is indicative of a society that has ceased to embrace a sanctity of human life ethic, and no longer believes that every human life bears the image and likeness of God. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018


For more than three decades I have been chronically ill and disabled with multiple sclerosis. During those years, I have found my comfort in the company of Jesus Christ and beauty of art created for His glory. Although I will never see the great Cathedrals of Europe and Britain, it is enough for me to know they are there. I can watch videos others have made of them. 

During some of my

sickest times I have lain in my bed and listened to the works of the great composers' music offerings to the glory of God. The Christian testimony of music and architecture. 

Below is a recording of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Davis, performing Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis. The performance took place in Gloucester Cathedral where is was first performed  and conducted by Vaughan Williams in 1910.

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) was an English composer -- a giant of sacred music. The magnificent Gloucester  Cathedral has been a place of Christian worship continuously for over 1,300 years. It's roots can be traced back to 689 AD.. (For more history of Gloucester Cathedral, see http://www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk/history-heritage/cathedral-history/)

Listen to the beautiful music. See the beauty of the ancient architecture.

Friday, February 23, 2018


Pornography is a major issue. It is not just a private issue, its effects are broad and devastating. It hurts individuals, families and communities. I recently came across the video below. It's excellent.  

If pornography is an issue in your life, don't keep it a secret, there are resources to help you overcome that addiction. Confess it to your priest or pastor and ask for help. But you must want God more than your choices.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Parkland school shooting victim
On Valentines Day 2018, a young man with mental issues, Nikolas Cruz (19), murdered 17 people at his former high school in Parkland Florida. Apparently Cruz was armed to the teeth with assault weapons. Evil. I grieve today with my American brothers and sisters.

I have an abiding love for America. In fact, the day my own country of Canada legalized medically assisting the suicides of sick and disabled people (at tax payer expense) was the day I starting wanting to move to the U.S.. I love everything about America except its obsession with guns. Does the 2nd Constitutional Amendment mean a right to bear assault weapons designed for one reason: Killing people? Don't get me wrong I believe in civil liberty as much as the guy. But for the life of me, I don't understand why ordinary citizens need AK47s, or other automatic weapons. It's simply beyond me.

I've heard the defence that people need a weapon to defend their property and families. That's what police are for. The response may be that some neighborhoods are so violent that people need to keep a pistol in their night-drawer to ward of intruders until the police arrive. Okay, but a pistol is vastly different than an automatic weapon. 

The Parkland high school slaughter begs the question that needs to
be answered: Should ordinary citizens have assault weapons designed for military applications? Is it reasonable for someone with a history of mental illness to have any gun?  My answer is no. 

But then what do I know, I'm a naive Canadian.  For the longest time I thought the right to bear arms had something to do with short-sleeved shirts.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018



My son is a successful graphic artist in the book publishing industry, but his real love is working with pencil and charcoal.  I't a dichotomy about him that I love. He makes his living at two extremes of visual arts: Computer and the original art form. I asked about this. He held up a piece of charcoal and said "It all began here." He is going so far as to make his own charcoal with fire and incomplete combustion of wood.

Dean usually draws the human face and you can see much of his work on Facebook at Dean Pickup art

He completely surprised me with his most recent piece (above). He called it MERCY. I asked him why he chose that title.  He said, "Only the powerful can give mercy. The powerless receive it." Good point. This charcoal drawing will mean different things to different people.

To Christians viewing MERCY, they may think of Aslan from C.S. Lewis' Narnia book series. A Muslim may think the lion represents Allah. The secularist will image a lion choosing not to devour it's prey.

Prints of MERCY can be ordered from Dean Pickup art.


Monday, February 5, 2018


"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,  and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! ... “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10: 1-6, 10)

Christ's love for children was immense and unquestionable. That is how our love for all children should be too, regardless of where they might be, their citizenship, homeland (or lack thereof), -- or their state or stage in life. All children need security, love, care, and nurture physically, emotionally and spiritually to help them to reach their full potential. To deny any child of these needs is sin. Jesus said their angels see the face of God. Do not be repelled by sentimental embroidered images of children's guardian angels. The Jewish belief in guardian angels was confirmed by Christ. It's hard to dismiss it.

We read in this passage 'Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. " Some translations say 'causes one of these little ones to stumble ...". About this passage, The Zondervan Bible Commentary states that the Greek is more accurately translated 'hurts the consciences of." It continued to clarify this point: "Modern psychology has demonstrated that failure to meet a child's standards can cause lasting psychic and spiritual damage." The words "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that
man by whom the offense comes!" are more accurately translated "Woe to the world for the hurt done to consciences."[1] It would be better for the offenders to have a mill stone tied around their necks and thrown into the sea.[2]

People need consciences that are unscarred by past life experiences, cruelties or neglect in order to discern and decide as clear as possible to follow Christ. Believing in Christ is the whole point of life.[1]  [Mark John 3.16, 17 and other Scriptures)

Someone may reply that everyone will experience such offences against their consciences. Jesus acknowledged this unfortunate reality. Woe to the world because of the offenses. For the offenses must come. Why must they come? They must come as a result of a fallen world and a fallen humanity.  Knowing that the very act of living will cause hurts, those who are called to nurture and care for children must comfort and put the hurts inflicted in a spiritual context, and assure the hurting child of God's love for them, as well as our own. It provides solid spiritual undergirding of needed support to face travails. 

Christ words of woe to the world and woe to those who cause offenses to children assures us of ultimate justice.

Only a corrupt and evil generation would destroy children before they are born, before they see the light of day, breath fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun on their shoulders. Throughout generations children have been denied carefree childhoods, play, learning, -- and forced into servitude, child labour, or become child-soldiers. No child should be made to kill!

Only a wicked world would force children to become child-
soldiers. What despicable corruption of innocence! What kind of scarred psyches and tormented and warped futures does this relegate them to? If their angels are always before the face of God -- as Jesus said -- I cannot imagine the eternal fate that awaits those who do such things to children.

How do we rescue child-soldiers? It easier to rescue them
physically than mentally and spiritually. [1] Can their psyches' be restored, their consciences healed, their souls redeemed from the grip of darkness?[2] Yes, I believe it is possible. I must believe it is possible. The alternative is unthinkable.

With God all things are possible.[3] I must believe that or there is nothing worth believing. I am a Christian. I have seen God's healing work in seemingly hopeless circumstances. There is no living soul beyond his redemptive power. I have seen His redemptive power turn stone-hearted reprobates into tender-hearted souls.  We must do our best to rescue innocents being toward slaughter. We must spare no effort to rescue children who have their childhoods' ripped from them by war and heal their sorrows.

[1] Zondervan Bible Commentary, ed. F F. Bruce (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2008) pp.1084-1085.
[2] Chris Meehan, "Former Child Soldier Tells of Horror and Redemption", News & Views, Christian Reform Church, 12 January 2008. ( https://www.crcna.org/news-and-views/former-child-soldier-tells-horror-and-redemption)
[3] Matthew 19.26. Cf. Luke 3.8. to see triumph over the impossible. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Below is a transcript of President Donald Trump's address to the 2018 March for Life in Washington, DC. 
God bless the President

President Trump addresses massive
crowd at the 2018 March for Life,
Washington, DC
We have tens of thousands of people watching this right down the road, tens of thousands. So, I congratulate you, and at least we picked a beautiful day, you can’t get a more beautiful day. I want to thank our Vice President Mike Pence for that wonderful introduction. I also want to thank you and Karen for being true champions for life. Thank you, and thank Karen.
Today I’m honored and really proud to be the first president to stand with you here at the White House to address the 45th March for Life, that’s very very special, 45th March for Life, and this is a truly remarkable group. Today tens of thousands of families, students, and patriots, and really just great citizens gather here in our nations Capitol. You come from many backgrounds, and many places, but you all come for one beautiful cause, to build a society where life is celebrated and protected and cherished.
The March for Life is a movement born out of love: you love your families; you love your neighbors; you love our nation; and you love every child born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.
We know that life is the greatest miracle of all. We see it in the eyes of every new mother who cradles that wonderful, innocent, and glorious-newborn child in her loving arms. I want to thank every person here today and all across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the caring support they need to choose life.
Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential, because of you. You’re living witnesses of this year’s March for life theme, and that theme is, ‘Love Saves Lives.’
As you all know Roe versus Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world. For example, in the United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions along with China North Korea and others. Right now, in a number of States, the laws allow a baby to be born [sic, aborted] from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.
It is wrong. It has to change.
Americans are more and more pro-life. You see that all the time. In fact, only 12% of Americans support abortion on demand at any time.
Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independent, and that is the ‘right to life.’
Tomorrow will mark exactly one year since I took the oath of office. And I will say our country is doing really well. Our economy is perhaps the best it’s ever been. You look at the job numbers, the companies pouring back into our country,  look at the stock market at an all-time high, unemployment at a 17-year low, unemployment for African workers at the lowest mark in the history of our country, unemployment for Hispanic at a record-low in history, unemployment for women, think of this, at an 18-year low.
We’re really proud of what we’re doing.
And during my first week in office, I reinstated a policy first put in place by Pres. Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy.
I strongly supported the House of Representatives’ pain-capable bill, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide. And I call upon the Senate to pass this important law and send it to my desk for signing.
On the National Day of Prayer, I signed an executive order to protect religious liberty. [I’m] very proud of that. Today, I’m announcing that we’ve just issued a new proposal to protect conscience rights and religious freedoms of doctors, nurses, and other medical professions. So important.
I have also just reversed the previous administration’s policy that restricted state efforts to direct Medicaid funding away from abortion facilities that violate the law.
We are protecting the sanctity of life and the family as the foundation of our society. But this movement can only succeed with the heart and the soul and the prayer of the people.
Here with us today is Marianne Donadio from Greensboro North Carolina. Where is Marianne? Hello, come on up here Marianne. Come. Nice to see you, by the way.
Marianne was 17 when she found out that she was pregnant. At first, she felt like she had no place to turn. But when she told her parents they responded with total love, total affection, total support. Great parents? Great? [Trump asked Marianne. She responded in the affirmative] I thought you were going to say that. I had to be careful.
Marianne bravely chose life and soon gave birth to her son. She named him Benedict which means blessing. Marianne was so grateful for her parents love and support that she felt called to serve those who were not as fortunate as her. She joined with others in her community to start a maternity home to care for homeless women who were pregnant. That’s great. They named it ‘Room at the Inn.’ Today, Marianne and her husband Don are the parents of six beautiful children. And her eldest son Benedict and her daughter Maria join us here today. Where are they? Come on over. That’s great.
Over the last 15 years, Room at the Inn has provided housing, childcare, counseling, education, and job-training to more than 400 women. Even more importantly, it has given them hope. It has shown each woman she is not forgotten, that she is not alone, and that she really now has a whole family of people who will help her succeed.
That hope is the true gift of this incredible movement that brings us together today.
It is the gift of friendship, the gift of mentorship, and the gift of encouragement, love, and support. Those are beautiful words and those are beautiful gifts.
And most importantly of all, it is the gift of life itself – that is why we March, that is why we pray, and that is why we declare that America’s future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity, and life for every child of God.
Thank you to the March for life, special, special people. And we are with you all the way. May God bless you and may God bless America. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


President Donald Trump's State of the Union Speech last night was cause for Americans to be hopeful for the future of the nation. It was as though someone opened a window to let fresh air in to the Capitol building after eight stifling years of Barack Obama and the Democrats.

The President spoke of hope and change to set free the engines of enterprise from the hobbles of government regulations and disincentives. He spoke of low unemployment and the rising stock market. The President spoke of national security to protect America -- and, by extension, the world. He spoke of faith and family and reminded Congress of the words found on America's currency: "In God We Trust." 

The Democratic Party mood
The Democrats sat sour-faced, glued to their seats, refusing to applaud the plan to Make America Great Again. They sat and  scowled as the President celebrated human greatness of ordinary people, and the capacity of motivated Americans to succeed. He called the nation to believe in itself and rise to its full potential. The Democrats stewed. It revealed something of their darkness. 

I do believe America is seeing the bright and hopeful rays of a new sunrise, after eight disastrous years of the Democrats. It is so important that the American people strengthen the Republican majorities on both the Senate and the House of Representatives in the upcoming mid-term elections. Without decisive majorities, the Democrats will continue to obstruct and stymy legislation of the duly elected Republican government and President. You see, to Democrats it's all about winning and losing not right and wrong. 

I was reminded of a blog post I wrote a number of years ago under the title "IS THE SUN RISING OR SETTING FOR AMERICA" SEE

-- MDP

Friday, January 26, 2018


The #MeToo movement was long overdo. It was (and remains) needed to rip a scab off a putrid cultural sore of sexual abuse and harassment.  There is evil in sexual predation. This evil is intensified by power imbalance between predator and victim. It can appear as inappropriate advances, intimidation, threats, and in extreme cases, violence. The evil is fuelled by silence. The #MeToo movement removed the fuel. But it must not stop there.

Avenues must be established for healing for victims (and
perpetrators). Our collective human community must work toward a proper balance between justice and mercy. It must ensure bridges of communication are open for repentance and forgiveness, restoration and reorientation of relationship dynamics based on mutual respect. This may involve therapies and treatments for victims and predators. The accused must be allowed to defend themselves, victims supported, false accusers punished.

But the goal must be restoration of everyone involved to view the other as valued, equal and contributing members of our collective human family. 

I understand that is not always possible. It takes the wisdom of Job to understand who can be retrieved and regretfully accept who is irretrievable and must remain pariahs. Our human community must remain sensitive and discerning about who is which. There is a time for incarceration for serious or criminal offences or repeat sexual offenders.  Always protect the common good even though it can carry a high human cost. 

It must be acknowledged that we live in a pornographic culture and that must be changed. Modesty is a virtue. Sexualization of people as objects, outside the bounds of commitment relationships, must cease to be glorified or viewed as healthy. Nobody is an object for the gratuitous gratification of someone else. The arts and media must move toward messaging that embraces the unalienable worth of every human being in their own rite. Entertainment and education have an important role to play in casting our individual and cultural understanding of human nature as possessing a spark of the divine. 

If you do not believe that every human life is inalienably endowed with the image and likeness of God, at least behave as though you do. -- MDP 

Monday, January 22, 2018


I started the HumanLifeMatters blog eleven years ago as a way for me to vent my grief seeing our once great western Christian civilization – dating back to the Middle Ages -- being dismantled.  All I hold dear is being attacked and broken. It became most evident with the rejection of the sanctity of all human life that served as a foundation of Common Law. It was on the basis of that foundation that our subsequent moral traditions, laws and mores were built. Western Christian civilization gave the highest individual and societal freedoms and liberties ever to exist!  But freedom and liberty need form. That is being taken apart and replaced with ever increasing hardline secularism. Consequently, the lives of the weakest, most vulnerable and unwanted are being turned into hell on earth.  

And yet I remain an optimist. I hope (perhaps foolishly) that what was can be again, to an even greater degree.  I still hope and pray for a Christian revival. I believe that only then can we reclaim what has been lost and restore the culture to valuing every life and where killing each other is unthinkable. This blog is a tool to expose cultural error and cruelty and recommend a better way found in Christ and a Christian moral consensus.

In the early years after this blog was started, very few people read my posts.  The numbers began to grow.  The blog has now surpassed 700,000 page views from across North America. It seems to be striking a full chord with people. 

I will continue to write until, either my health gives out, or Google Blogger censors the HumanLifeMatters blog. What I write is offensive to aggressive and hardline secularist views, and because of this I do not allow many comments. I suspect a progressive or two will complain to Google at some point to have me silenced. 


Saturday, January 20, 2018


David Horowitz
Leftist have won my country of Canada and we are paying a terrible price. But the battle is still being waged by the left for hearts, minds and soul of America. 

David Horowitz is one of America's great citizens. For more than 25 years he has been fighting for foundational freedoms under direct threat of leftist agendas. If freedom and truth prevail in America, a great debt of gratitude will be owed by the nation to David Horowitz. See video below then visit:

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I have often tried to express a mysterious dichotomy I've experienced during the darkest days of my life journey. It is a mystery that has been a continuing feature throughout 34 years of serious neurological disease of aggressive multiple sclerosis. This is the mystery: Even in my most desperate times, I have experienced a very real internal peace of Christ. How can peace exist in the terror of catastrophic disease? How do tears of joy flow together with tears of sorrow? I do not know, and yet there it is. Christ's peace simply exists despite desperate situations. There is celestial ecstasy that mingles with human agony. 

A cynic, agnostic or atheist might respond by saying that what I am describing is just euphoria that can be experienced with neurological diseases like MS. The problem with that explanation is that millions of people throughout the ages have experienced this same peace in even more desperate circumstances. Music and poetry and books have been written about this peace in Christ that passes all understanding. 

Above the clamour of the world and agonies chronic illness and disability, Christ's calls to me: "Be not afraid, I am with you." His peace reaches through anguish and calms my soul. And once again, music expresses my heart where words fail. Click on image below. -- Mark

Monday, January 15, 2018


Last fall I have started a second blog called MediaPerspective (http://www.mediaperspective.org/). It is a critique of and for the media. In an era where euthanasia and assisted suicide for the sick and disabled is legal, it is important the media portray life with disability in a positive context. In an era of dominant liberal slanted news reporting, it is important that news outlets be held accountable for what and how they report or withhold from airing. It is important that media employers be an inclusive workforce embracing contributions employees with disabilities have to give.

Recently I challenged the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for failing to be an inclusive employer of people with disabilities.  

The CBC receives over $1.4-billion annually of taxpayer funding.
They have a responsibility to include representation, perspectives and presence of Canadians with disabilities throughout their organization. This is important in news gathering teams, management, on-air news and current affairs or dramatic productions. After all, Canadians with disabilities represent 13.7% of the population. 

See below for my correspondence to the federal government minister overseeing the CBC as well as senior management of the Corporation.  To date, there has not been a reply other than a short perfunctory email from CBC's ethics and values commissioner.


To: The Hon. Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, House of Commons, OTTAWA, ON.

CC: Hubert T Lacroix, CBC President an CEO; Heather Conway, Executive Vice-President, CBC English Services; Alex Johnston, Vice-President, Strategy and Public Affairs; Diane Girard, CBC’s Values and Ethics Commissioner; other selected parties and agencies 

Mme Joly: This email correspondence is to lodge a complaint against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for consistently failing to meet hiring and employment retention goals for employees with disabilities. This billion dollar government funded federal corporation has not only failed to targets for their own INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY PLAN (2015-2018) -- they have failed to meet disability employment goals within the Employment Equity Act and policies dating back 30 years! This must not continue.

For more information and clarification, please see my blog, MediaPerspective at http://www.mediaperspective.org/ for 3 posts about this matter, beneath a copy of this email:


All of these posts were sent to senior management of the CBC. Only Diane Girard responded saying, in part: “…The allegations in your email are broad ones. If you have a specific complaint regarding the behaviour of one of our employees, please indicate the nature of your complaint you want to make and send us specific details.” The commissioner for Values and Ethics completely missed the point. I was referring to a systemic problem within the CBC and Ms Girard thought I was complaining about an individual employee?! That was an outrageous response!

The time for accountability has come. The CBC MUST incorporate real and measurable and visible disability inclusion and diversity. Ms Joly, I ask you to investigate the CBC’s decades long failure to meet disability employment targets dating back 30 years.

I am,
Respectfully yours,

Mark Davis Pickup

(NB: Posts referred to see below.)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


The last post on this blog was entitled “CBC’s farcical Diversity and Inclusion plan” – when it comes to employing people with disabilities.  Since Canada instituted the Employment Equity Act , more than 30 years ago, federal corporations (like the CBC) and federal contractors have been required to establish and meet employment goals for women, visible minorities, indigenous peoples and Canadians with disabilities. It seems a reasonable expectation for a corporation that receives over a billion dollars annually of federal government funding. The CBC has consistently failed to meet even the most modest of goals when it comes to disabilities. 

The MediaPerspective post prior to the one mentioned above was published on November 18th 2017 and appeared under the title “CBC’s Persistent Bigotry.” It chronicled my experience and observations of Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster’s resistance to employ Canadian with disabilities in anything but the most menial of tasks over the past 3 decades.  

The CBC published a document called INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY: 2015-2018) PLAN. It begins with a message CBC President and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix, Executive Vice President of English Services, Heather Conway, and Executive Vice President of French Services, Louis Lalande. Their message stated that the 
‘Inclusion and Diversity’ document is the latest effort in a 5 year 
strategy they refer to as A Space for Us All.  They stated the strategy “aims to be the public space at the heart of our conversation and experience as Canadians.” These most senior executives continued:

“Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) is integral to achieving this vision, as it highlights the importance of including a range of faces, voices, experiences and perspectives in our content and workplace. The public broadcaster must be relevant to and representative of the population it serves.[1]  [my emphasis added]

I found these comments reassuring in theory, disappointing in practice. Messrs. Lacroix and Lalande and Mme Conway, as the most senior executives, may have such a commitment but somehow it hasn’t filtered down to managers, executive producers, casting directors or others who actually do the hiring.  The Inclusion and Diversity Plan illustrates the utter failure to meet targets to hire and retain people with disabilities, across various every levels of the CBC.  I am left to conclude that a persistent bigotry against the idea of disabled employees is still firmly embedded in the workings of CBC beneath the President and Vice-Presidents. This absence of disabled employees persists despite a number of training and networking activities being developed.  These include:

·      a development workshop for diverse content creators, providing participants with the tools and resources they need to develop their own pitches for original programming. Has the workshop actually been developed? If so, who developed it? Were the developers of the workshop experienced with issues and barriers faced by Canadians with disabilities. How often was the workshop presented to CBC staff? What follow-up occurred to reinforced the content of the workshop?

·      A yearly networking event that focuses on facilitating connections between emerging diverse talent, experienced creators, decision makers and our production partners.  Was there only one yearly networking event? Did “facilitating connections between emerging talent” include emerging talent with disabilities? If so, how many? Were emerging talented people with disabilities actually connected with experienced creators and decision and/or the CBC production partners? If so, how many? What were the results?

·      A working group on diversity in drama series, bringing together all levels of the industry. Was the working group established? If so, who established it and who makes up this working group? Was this group the Joint Employment Equity Committee (JEET) mentioned on page 6? How active and proactive are they at bringing together all levels of the industry to benefit disabled actors, broadcasters, writers, film-makers, etc.[2]

The preamble of the Inclusion and Diversity Plan mentions that there have been a number of CBC-led initiatives targeting specific communities, such as:

Ø “A new learning journey at Radio-Canada to encourage the hiring of more Aboriginal employees within News and Current Affairs and similarly, at CBC, we are working with our Aboriginal unit and leadership across the country to improve recruitment and internship opportunities.”Excellent! Was the same thing done to encourage hiring employees with disabilities? Is there a disabilities unit at CBC similar to the Aboriginal unit? If not, why not?
Ø “Coordinated, multiplatform programming for targeted vents, such as our [CBC] initiatives surrounding Black History Month.” This is good in the area of visible minorities. Did the CBC give similar attention to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities? Did coordinated multi-platform programming happen for Canadians with Disabilities?

If the aim of the CBC is to be relevant and representative of Canada’s population, then that should be reflected not only in their programming but also in their own workforce. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 14 percentage of Canada’s population over 15 years of age have disabilities. The targets and goals for CBC employees with disabilities should reflect this.  By extension, a similar representation of Canadians with disabilities should be reflected in News, Current Affairs and dramatic programming, including on-air presence.

Page 5 of the I&D Plan states, under the title PROGRESS ACHIEVED, that CBC’s human resources department (called People and Culture) focuses on “attracting, recruiting and developing a diverse workforce.” Apparently they have a team to help foster a culture of inclusion. (I can hardly wait until they start!)  They claim, “The Corporation’s workforce became increasingly diverse over the last three years, as did the Canadian population.” Nice words, but “the Plan” later confessed that:

“Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities – saw marginal increases in representation. However, important representation gaps remain in those two groups. Barring a concerted recruitment and hiring effort, existing gaps for three out of four designated groups may remain.” [My emphasis added]

It seems that not much progress was actually achieved. What sort of 
review and adaptation of the plan has occurred since 2015 to improve this disappointing reality?  What response did JEET have to improve recruitment of employees with disabilities?

Table 2 – WORKFORCE ANALYSIS BY EMPLOYMENT EQUITY OCCUPATIONAL GROUP, to 31 December 2014, reveals employment levels for employees with disabilities:

Senior Managers, middle and other managers = 1.3%
Professionals = 1.4%
Semi-professionals and technicians = 2.3%
Supervisors = 0%
Administrative and Senior clerical = 0%
Skilled crafts and trade workers = 0%
Clerical personnel = 2.7%
Intermediate sales and services = 0%
Semi-skilled manual workers = 0%
Other sales and service personnel = 0%

The Corporation's employees with disability across Canada represent a mere 1.7% of their workforce.  Perhaps a “concerted recruitment and hiring effort” is needed.


In this latest document to the federal government, more current information is presented. There’s little improvement, after the smoke and mirrors of the document are cleared away. It’s designed to cast the CBC’s dismal performance in the best possible light.  The report stated that CBC/Radio-Canada increased its representation rate in all designated groups during 2016. Wonderful! Then they revealed that the results for the four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act: (Women, visible minorities, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.)

Women fared best representing 57.2% of new hires and 55% of promotions for 2016. Visible minorities also fared fairly well representing 19.1% of new hires, which CBC claimed was above their representation rate. Disabilities represented 2.3% of new hires.

Keep in mind that any minuscule increases in disability hires were for one year of a 5 year strategy. This should be viewed in the context of more than 30 years of the Employment Equity Act being in force! By now, their workforce should resemble and represent the population (see footnote #1 of this post).

A subset within CBC’s A Space For Us All strategy is necessary that focus on disabilities. Begin by increasing a nation-wide on-air presence of people with disabilities. Role models and examples are needed to inspire young people with disabilities to consider broadcasting and acting. In television and dramatic programming visible disabilities should be purposely cast for the same reason. Other strategies are included in Footnote #2. 

Although not included in employment equity targets, there must also be a general openness within the CBC to contracting seniors to developing and presenting programming to and for issues impacting seniors, including disability that increases with age. 

According to the 2016 federal census 16.9% of Canada’s population are 65 or older. If representation and inclusion are as important to the CBC as they claim, they should have about that much programming dedicated to issues impacting seniors – including increasing disability with advancing age.

All of this ties back to something I quoted at the beginning of this post that CBC’s President and Vice Presidents of English and French Services said: “The public broadcaster must be relevant to and representative of the population it serves.” Indeed it must. But it requires a significant shift in CBC’s corporate culture and collective mindset to actively embrace the inclusion of people with disabilities across the organization, at every level. Under-representation (or absence) of employees with disabilities across the spectrum of CBC, News and Current Affairs and programming cannot continue. The problem is systemic. 

While I was preparing this post I received a disheartening email from CBC’s Values and Ethics Commissioner. She wrote, “The allegations in your email are broad ones. If you have a specific complaint regarding the behavior of one of our employees, please indicate the nature of the complaint you want to make and send us specific details.” She doesn’t get it! The Commissioner of values and ethics does not understand that the problem is not with a person  per se -- the problem systemic. And that involves corporate values and ethics at a fundamental level. I am not pointing at an individual. I am accusing the CBC of a long-standing and continuing anti-disability prejudice. The CBC needs to change to reflect the reality of our Canadian mosaic that includes people with disabilities as integral, contributing and valued members of society and the Corporation.

Words like diversity and inclusion ring hollow if they are not backed up with action and do not reflect in the numbers. 

Mark Davis Pickup

[1] Women represent 50.4% of Canada’s population (17.2 million);Visible minorities represent 19.1% of Canada’s population (6.2 million), Immigration and Ethnocultural Representation In Canada, Statistics Canada: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-010-x/99-010-x2011001-eng.cfm ; Canada’s indigenous population makes up 4.3%  of the population (1.4 million people), http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-011-x/99-011-x2011001-eng.cfm; Canada’s disabled population represents 13.7% of the population (3.8 million), http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2013002-eng.htm

[2] I am aware that the pool of talent amongst the disabled population may be small and/or have inadequate training. This is where “facilitating” becomes important. Be pro-active. This may involve apprenticeships and internships, job shadowing, on-the-job training, seat purchase in radio and television arts programs at post-secondary institutions such as Ryerson, Mount Royal College in Calgary, Radio and Television Art (Edmonton and Calgary), cooperative work programs, etc.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


My previous post was entitled "CBC'S PERSISTENT BIGOTRY." It dealt with the CBC's deliberate and dismal record of not employing people with disabilities. My focus was primarily on television reporters, anchors and other on-air presence of broadcasters with disabilities. However, there's nothing close to reasonable representation anywhere across Mother Corp., from senior management to basic clerical positions.

[In terms of on-air disability presence, my previous post did not specifically deal with dramatic and comedy productions such as Murdoch Mysteries, Heartland, Anne and Schitt's Creek. You will notice they don't have characters with disabilities.]


for 2015- 2018. The document's preamble is written by Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC, Heather Conway, Executive Vice-President, English Services and Louis LaLande, Executive Vice President, French Services. They  state they support inclusion and diversity in programming and show cycles "from idea development through production and post-broadcast measurement." They continued:

"Having a diverse workforce, including our management team, allows us to capture the aspirations of all groups that make up our social fabric. We know we still have a lot of work to do, but we are confident that the Inclusion and Diversity Plan 2015-2018 will lay a foundation for our success as Canada's public broadcaster."

Really? Even senior management? In their most up-to-date employment table 2 in the Inclusion and Diversity Plan, entitled "CBC/Radio Canada WORKFORCE 

ANALYSIS BY EMPLOYMENT EQUITY OCCUPATIONAL GROUP for 2014, the best they could muster for senior managers and middle managers was 1.3%. The dismal stats and unattained goals for a workforce that includes employees with disabilities makes their hollow words an embarrassment. Apparently the aspirations of people with disabilities are not included in CBC's "social fabric".

Mother Corp's Inclusion and Diversity plan acknowledges that,

"... Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities saw marginal increases in representation. However, important representation gaps remain for those two groups. Barring a concerted recruitment and hiring effort, existing gaps for three out of four groups will remain." 

With regards to employees with disabilities, they say employment advances were "marginal"?  I prefer the word minuscule. The Inclusion and Diversity Plan shows that as of December 2011, employees with disabilities at CBC was only 1.5% of staff. Three years later the number nudged up ever so slightly to 1.7%.  A 0.2% increase over three years is minuscule. The CBC is falling far behind in their goal of 4.6% for that time period. Perhaps it is time for "concerted recruitment and hiring effort" -- there's only one year left in CBC's INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY PLAN.

The Inclusion and diversity plan for 2015-2018 is a farce. The CBC is not attaining their own pathetic goals. They are only half way toward their 2018 goal for the category that includes on-air staff with disabilities and only 1.7% of their total workforce represents employees with disabilities. Their goal is 4.4%. Quite simply, the CBC is not anywhere close to their own goals.

Apparently The Plan is reviewed by the CBC's Vice President of People and Culture, currently Monique Marcotte, and her staff, as 

well as what they have dubbed their Joint Employment Equity Committee made up of stakeholders. Their implementation and monitoring strategy is failing.

Things have not improved much since I was involved nearly 30 years ago. The CBC has a very selective and partial version of inclusion and diversity. Actions may speak louder than words -- but so does inaction.

Hubert T. LaCroix
CBC's President & CEO
Changing reality requires a change of hearts and thinking beginning at the at the top with the President and CEO, then trickling down to Vice Presidents, then senior manager and executive producers, and so forth.

Inclusion and diversity are more than statistics, percentages, and goals which are simple quantitative and hopefully qualitative tools of measurement. Dedication to inclusion and diversity begins in the human heart and works out.

It is a blazing truth that people behave as they think; beliefs should govern their thinking and reflect in their actions. But not to act is to act. It is high time for the CBC to illustrate through hiring, training and retention of employees with disabilities, it's ongoing commitment to the very inclusion and diversity they espouse.

Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, November 18, 2017


CBC's new anchors for the
National News: left - right
Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang,
Adrienne Arsenault, Ian Hanomansiing
Ever mindful of progressive sensibilities, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has unveiled a new approach toThe National news. They have four, count 'em, four co-anchors. There's a gender balance and a visible ethnic balance to represent Canada's multiculturalism. They did not, however, include in the co-anchor mix a Canadian with a disability or First Nations. I will focus on disability because that is my experience.

The CBC receives well over $1.2-billion annually in federal taxpayers' funding. For many years I have unsuccessfully advocated an increase in disability employment at the CBC — especially with its on-air presence. After all, over 10 percent of working age Canadians (2.3 million) have a disability.[1]

Up until 1991, I worked for the Canadian federal Commission charged with promoting employment equity in the workplace for Canadians with disabilities. One of the worst of offenders of disability employment discrimination was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Every year the federal human rights commission filed its annual report in the Canadian parliament showing the CBC failed BOMBED with flying colours to meet expectations of federal corporations to hire and retain people with disabilities under the Employment Equity Act. 

I could not persuade senior management of the CBC Alberta/NWT region to consider qualified disabled workers for a broad spectrum of employment across the CBC. They were resistant to the point of obstinacy (particularly when it came to the idea of television broadcasters). Never mind broadcasters, they just could not imagine the possibility of including skilled disabled writers, researchers, producers, directors, editors, and particularly NOT television reporters and anchors. 

Year after year, the federally funded CBC failed to meet expectations for an internal workforce that reflected the mosaic of Canadian society. This was particularly true with regard to disability. 

My training and experience prior to my disability included television and radio so I convinced my Commission to offer me on secondment to the CBC for a year to work with a program team as a radio writer/researcher (start modestly). Of course the CBC bit, it was free labour for them. It was an opportunity for me to infiltrate the ranks, so to speak, and encourage them to look past disability. They would not. They seemed to think they were above accountability. 

Even after the year's secondment, and glowing performance reviews of my work, senior management remained resistant to the point of defiance to consider employment equity for qualified disabled workers. At the end of the year I met with Alberta/NWT senior management for debriefing. They admitted that I proved to be a valued employee who only required minor workplace accommodation. They admitted their dismal employment record for disability--they could not deny the horrible statistics--particularly with television reporters/anchors. One executive cynically mused about getting employees who wear eyeglasses to identify as disabled to get their numbers up (snicker-snicker).

One manager said, "A reporter in a wheelchair would be distracting to viewers." I responded, "Initially, perhaps, but I think you underestimate your viewers' ability to accept difference.They simply want the news and quality programming." I reminded them there was a time in the 1960s when the same argument was used against women reporters and anchors.

An uncomfortable program executive feigned openness to the idea and said, "Well, I suppose we could hide their wheelchair behind a desk or take waist-up shots." I replied: "Why are you presuming a wheelchair, and secondly why would you hide a person's disability?"

Another producer erupted, "This is bullshit!" He stood, threw his file on the conference table, and stormed out of the room. The meeting ended shortly after that. 

Patrick Watson
President of CBC
It was clear that I failed to break through a corporate culture that discriminated against considering qualified disabled people across a full spectrum of employment opportunities. (What was ironic was that the national President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at  the time was an amputee (Patrick Watson)).

In fairness to the CBC, a month or two after I returned to my regular position with the employment commission, I received a call from a senior CBC executive in Toronto about a new series they were developing to explore issues of Canadians with disabilities. They wanted me to consider hosting it. The CBC flew me to Ottawa to meet with the executive producer for the proposed show to discuss the idea of a 13-week pilot on their newly established news channel. It was hardly attractive. They offered me half my salary and I would have to unroot my young family and move to Ottawa for the tenuous prospect of hosting a show that could easily end after 13 weeks (which happened). I turned down the offer. 
Why was I persistent in my push for the CBC to consider disabled broadcasters? Young people with disabilities needed (and still do) positive role models in the broadcasting industry for them to aspire to (and other professions). The broadcasting industry needed to be introduced to the prospect of employing skilled, talented people despite disabilities not because of them. They still do. 

I hope things have changed, although I still do not see a visible disability presence on television. The CBC seems so quick to point out the prejudices and failing of everyone else but loath to admit their own.

Why am I blogging about a 27-year-old experience I had with the CBC? I'm doing it precisely because so little seems to have changed in over a quarter of a century! It seems the broadcasting progressives are not so progressive after all.

General employment prospects for workers with disabilities in Canada (and abroad) remains appalling. Such horrendous unemployment/under-employment rates experienced amongst the disabled would not be tolerated in the rest of the workforce!

You see, I used my experience with the CBC as a segue into the larger issue of disability discrimination. The cultural deck is stacked against disability inclusion. It's politically correct to speak about being inclusive -- but progressives' inclusion is selective. People with disabilities face discrimination in every meaningful aspect of life from employment to finding decent housing, transportation, recreation, proper education and supports, health care and home care that may be spotty, inconsistent or piece-meal. 

Many Canadians with disabilities feel marginalized and excluded from mainstream society. 

Canada's federally funded CBC should be helping to change that through addressing disability issues just as they do with gender and sexual politics, racism and First Nations issues, and setting a progressive image of disability inclusion. Give similar attention and air time to issues of disability as with LGBTQ issues (which represent a much smaller proportion of society). The CBC should be giving the same coverage to suicide amongst the disabled, and reasons behind it, as with First Nations' suicides, and the reasons for it. The CBC should show an ongoing commitment to news and current affairs dealing with employment and disability, just as they do with women and employment issues. 

Qualified anchors and reporters with visible disabilities should be a regular part of news delivery across the nation. Why visible disabilities? Not only does this set an example and promote role models for young people with disabilities, it helps to promote integration and inclusion in the public's mindset. But I predict it won't happen any time soon. If the CBC feels no compunction to employ a workforce that's reflective of Canadian society -- despite receiving more than $1.2 billion dollars each year in public money -- why would private broadcasters? Including broadcasters with disabilities is still foreign and uncomfortable to the CBC -- and other media outlets. It's not fashionable in the way LGBTQ issues are, or First Nations issues. 

Granted, there are exceptions one can point out but they are few and far between. They are the rare exceptions, and everybody knows they are the rare exceptions. Society still sees workers with disabilities as less capable. Employing them is considered a gesture of corporate benevolence. Our culture has yet to understand that a qualified and inclusive workforce, in all its variations, enriches society. Until that really happens, we will all be poorer.   

Someone may say they would be willing to consider qualified disabled workers, but they are can't find any. That may be true. I remember a time when similar reasons were presented about women in what we used to call non-traditional jobs. Training! Job-shadowing, cooperative work programs, internships and assisted apprenticeships. These are ways to change things and build an inclusive workforce that is capable and willing to include people with disabilities on equal footing as the rest of the workforce.

As I said earlier, I used to be program officer for the federal government's employment commission. In 1990, I worked with the Radio and Television Arts program (RTA) at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, Canada, to promote and reserve seats for students with disabilities. It did not succeed. Not many young people with disabilities could meet the prerequisites of the program. Others who could meet the criteria did not even consider the RTA program. That's where role models, promotion of broadcasting at high school career fairs, and assistance to meet program entrance criteria come into play.

Let me return the example of women: many women in the early 1960s did not even
consider professions that were the traditional domains of men (physicians, lawyers, broadcasters, and the trades). But over time, that changed. Today, many law schools and medical schools are dominated by women. They are some of our finest legal, medical and scientific minds. Look how much richer society is now! 

And so I pose another question: How much are we missing by not developing, encouraging, and promoting the potential and talents of people with disabilities? 

[1] Disability in Canada, Initial findings from the Canadian survey on disability, Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2013002-eng.htm