Mustn't Offend the Communists:

From the Ottawa Citizen:

A new monument in Ottawa to commemorate the victims of some sort of oppression was approved by the National Capital Commission’s board of directors Thursday, but the decision has left those proposing the monument confused as to what, exactly, was approved....

The NCC board passed a motion supporting the concept of the commemoration, “but perhaps with a different title,” after objections about the title were raised by nearly all members who spoke.

The title — “monument to the victims of totalitarian communism” — has already been changed once. In the first proposals, ... it was to be called “monument to the victims of communism.”

After beginning discussions with the NCC in March 2008, the groups had back-and-forth discussions with a committee of experts who suggested that the title be changed because it could be perceived as “unduly critical of Canadians who might associate themselves with communism,” Egan said.

The group then changed the name to include the word “totalitarian.” The title still did not sit well with the board.

“I was unsettled by this name, and other members of the committee agreed with me,” said Hélène Grand-Maître, speaking in French. “We should make sure that we are politically correct in this designation.”

Board member Adel Ayad said the name was troubling for its “very tight definition” and for the presence of the word “communism” in the title, as Canada has a communist party.

“It’s not communism itself that we should be fighting here. It is rather totalitarianism we are against in any form,” he said....

The monument aims to honour the 100 million people who died under communist regimes across the world .... The monument will also thank Canada for its role in providing a homeland for those coming from communist regimes.

The monument has a $1.5-million budget, all of which will come from private-sector fundraising, according to the proposal....

The National Post [UPDATE: link fixed] also adds:

One commissioner questioned whether Canadians could even legitimately point fingers at the brutality of Stalin or Pol Pot, given that our own federal government had put Japanese-Canadians in internment camps during the Second World War.

Perhaps, suggested another [Richard Jennings, judging from a reference in the Ottawa Citizen article -EV], the best route would be to be avoid specifics, strike "communism" from the proposed name altogether, and dedicate the memorial to "victims of oppressive regimes," so as not to single any particular ideologies out.

As always with these things, I should caution that news accounts may omit important context for the quotes; if anyone has a pointer to a fuller account, or a transcript, audio, or video of the board meeting, I'd love to see it.


Canadian Commission Approves Monument Named "To Victims of Totalitarian Communism":

So says this press release; I blogged about the name controversy last week.

Thanks to Alykhan Velshi, Communications Director for Canadian M.P. Jason Kenney, for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Canadian Commission Approves Monument Named "To Victims of Totalitarian Communism":
  2. Mustn't Offend the Communists: