Re-making Ottawa?

Posted 09.04.14

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | "Attention servants of the Canadian State..." that's how the communique was supposed to begin, I'm certain. The communique refers to Prime Minister Harper's personal decision that Canada will support (with big money) another monument in Ottawa: To the Memory of the Victims of Communism. My gosh, even Vladimir Putin would help out with that.

Our question is about priorities.

Mr. Harper's government is cutting public servants, ending science projects and libraries, killing research, limiting transfer payments for health care and education, cutting war-veterans' care, and saying "no!" to infrastructure payments -- yet there's money for a monument to victims of a regime that no longer exists. Clearly, this is ideology.

Are tax dollars supposed to be funding ideological projects of the Prime Minister?

But we should look with a wider perspective. This is an opportunity to honour other victims as well.

First, we could honour the victims of capitalism. Charles Dickens, we all know, identified them clearly and forcefully. Plus, there are the victims of the Residential Schools, and even the murdered aboriginal women, all needing public acknowledgement.

And why stop there -- Joe Stalin is too easy a target!

Let's go back to the thousands of slaves Canadians kept, both Aboriginals and Blacks, and to Japanese-Canadians who were incarcerated, with their property seized (à la Joe Stalin). There are centuries of victims of industrial corner-cutting -- miners, fishermen, loggers, truckers. It would be interesting to open our history books and really read what's there. Let's ask the First Nations peoples who should be so honoured: anti-communists, first, or others?

Everyone's list would surely include victims of religious violence, from Syria today to the Catholic Inquisition and Franco's Spain. Include them?

This is all so negative. Mr. Harper could be positive and monumentalize his ideological role models -- Mother Theresa, Ronald Reagan, Thatcher, Pinochet, Nixon, Goebbels, Henry Kissinger, Conrad Black, even his ally and fishing buddy, Rob Ford. There's no stopping this list! Plus the biggest monument of all, the one to the Almighty Corporate Buck.

But there are critics of Harper's plan to re-make Ottawa (not to mention Canada itself). The biggest problem is that China remains a communist state and, at the same time, is becoming the engine of the world's economy -- and the biggest market for Canada's raw materials. How can Mr. Harper claim to run a "business government" and also slap one of our best customers in the face? Is that good government? Is it good economic management?

Maybe re-making Ottawa should be re-thought. Do we really need such a heavy-handed expression of political ideology? Doesn't this ideological stuff merely divide people? What? Sorry!, you're right, it's really about creating wedge issues before next year's election! I should have guessed as much.


Copyright © 2014 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/08.14