People use the tongue-in-cheek saying “first-world problems” to mock the minor inconveniences that plague the daily lives of those of us privileged to live in countries like Canada. Too much foam on the latte and having to endure long lineups for the latest Apple gadget are just some of the trials that test our human spirit here in the True North Strong and Free.
After an Ottawa woman argued last week that a parking spot is a human right, perhaps it’s time to coin a new saying: “first-world human rights.”
I hope you have your tissue box ready for this sob story. Pamela Howson claims the City of Ottawa discriminated against her by not recognizing her “family circumstances” when she was denied permission to park her car on the street in front of her house. The driveway leading to her designated parking spot behind her house is only slightly wider than her car, making parking laborious. She claims that she needs a wide car to fit three child seats in the back, and the city failed to acknowledge this special circumstance.
My parking spot at my condo building is also tricky to access. I have to manoeuvre around a concrete beam and a fellow tenant’s giant motor home. Instead of crying to the human rights police, I take a few extra seconds longer to park, which is entirely reasonable — it’s called life.
In Canada, the confusion between a right and an entitlement seems to be growing.
Quebec post-secondary students are in the midst of a province-wide strike against the provincial government’s proposed tuition increases, even though Quebec students already pay some of the cheapest tuition in the country. Some students are claiming free tuition is their right, which says a lot of about the value they place on their own education when they aren’t willing to pay a dime for it.
We have it so good in Canada that some people are losing sight of what real problems and real rights are. In Saudi Arabia, women don’t even have the right to drive, let alone to easy parking.
Freedom and civil liberties are human rights; convenient parking and a free four-year degree in medieval gender studies are not rights. Let’s keep things in perspective and stop eroding the meaning of a right.
- post by Kathryn Marshall. Originally published in 24 Hours Vancouver.