On May 13, Council endorsed staff's and ARAC's recommendations without debate.
At the request of Councillor Harder, Bruce Finlay replied to our questions.
E.D. - May 14, 2015
Update - 3 March
+ Liberal Party critic of Canadian Heritage Stéphane Dion on Feb 26 came out against the location of the memorial (Ottawa Citizen, Feb 27). An article printed on Feb 27 also disclosed that the designers had slightly reduced the size of one part of the memorial. Available on the web site is a pre-press conference article dated Feb 24.
+ In response to a question by MP Paul Dewar, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Heritage Minister, Rick Dykstra, denied that there had been no consultation. The article appeared only in print, on Feb 28.
+ The CBC's The National on March 1 had a story (2'14"), with clips from Shelley Glover, Toon Dreessen, Paul Dewar, Stéphane Dion and Pierre Poilièvre.
Update - 5 March
Canadian Institute of Planners joins chorus opposing location - Ottawa Citizen, March 5, 2015
Update - 7 March
Joanne Chianello, in the same paper, also chimed in.
Update - 12 March (updated again, March 26)
In addition to four more letters to the editor (some for, some against), Andrew Cohen offered his insight in the Ottawa Citizen of March 11: "... a monumental folly conceived in cynicism." He mentions that there is a Change.org petition. It was launched by University of Ottawa students and has attracted almost 1500 signatures to date. They also created a Facebook page. (Update: 3,075 signatures to date.)
Update - 13 March (updated again, March 26)
In an article in today's Metro that is mostly about Phase 2 of the LRT, Minister Pierre Poilièvre also comments on the memorial and is quoted as saying: "...as for the location, listen, I think that the alternative is yet another government building … I don’t have any of my constituents calling my office and saying that we need to put another government building on that particular spot". He repeated this claim, apparently at an event in Sandy Hill, as quoted in an article by Jordan Press in the Ottawa Citizen of March 26. As subscribers to the GA List know, that's a lie! The same quote appears in an article in the Globe & Mail dated 25 March that didn't make it in print.
Update - 18 March (updated again, March 26)
Update - 19 March
The Globe and Mail today devoted three articles, including its double-page Folio, to the controversy. Bill Curry found that the Tribute to Liberty charity has declared to the CRA for each of the past five years that it has not engaged in any political activity and has passed a CRA audit "with flying colours." Architecture critic Alex Bozokovic recaps the site selection process and reviews the design (mushed into one article on the web site; with interactive map of a walk along Wellington Street). Chair of the Tribute to Liberty charity is quoted as saying: "It's a process. Stay tuned. We are not in the business of not listening to the voices that are being expressed."
The Ottawa Citizen's Don Butler (March 19), via Access to Information, dug up a 2009 report from a committee of experts who opined that a memorial to the victims of communism did not really meet the requirements of the NCC's commemoration policy because it is not a central theme in Canadian history. It recommended approval anyway. The committee was disbanded shortly thereafter. The only concession the promoters made was to add the tag line "Canada, a land of refuge."
Update - 20 March
An absolutely hilarious cartoon by Gable and a poignant letter to the editor (among four) by George Haeh of Lethbridge, Alberta, in today's Globe and Mail:
"It seems a little too facile to memorialize victims of a safely far-away government when our own government seemingly turns its back on Canada’s victims.
For example, our Plains Indians were subjected to starvation in the 19th century to open the land to European settlement. More recently, generations of Indian children suffered in the residential school system; many of their children and grandchildren remain victims today as the harm cascades through generations.
Today, where is the government’s concern about missing or murdered aboriginal women, about ensuring that all remains are identified – a failure to care that goes all way to the top.
Perhaps we should first memorialize the victims of our own governments."
Update - 23 March
The NCC's CEO replied to our letter in a letter dated March 17. The reply notes that the Parliamentary Precinct is in the hands of Public Works and Government Services, "which is also the landowner". The Department wrote to the NCC in March 2013, advising it that the land in question would change from building site to monument site. A handwritten note from CEO Kristmanson adds: "Thanks for your letter. One of our concerns with the current design of the monument is its treatment of 'greenspace,' which is being addressed through the federal design approval process."
Update - 26 March
Seventeen former presidents of the Canadian Bar Association signed an open letter, "This monument puts justice under a shadow," published in the Globe & Mail of 26 March.
Update - 29 March
A long editorial in the Globe & Mail asks: "A monument to what, exactly?" (print version, March 30; on the web site it's entitled "The Victims of Communism Memorial: Right idea, wrong place"). The editorial concludes that it is "a well-meaning tribute to victims of communism that has been appropriated by the Conservative government as a prop in its constant effort to cast itself as tough on evil and on evildoers."
Update - 1 April
Minister Glover replied to our letter. No new information.
Update - 2 May
CEO Mark Kristmanson's reply to our letter alluded to the federal design review process. Based on comments by the CEO at the previous day's NCC Board meeting, an article by Don Butler in the Ottawa Citizen of 23 April confirms that this process could delay construction. The design will come to the Board in either June or September; if the latter it is unlikely that construction will begin this year. An accompanying article on the same page by Butler reveals the specific objections the NCC's advisory committee expressed between February and August 2014. As well, an attempt by the NCC to have the government announce the site as "intended" did not succeed. A bonus article, again by Butler on the same page tells of an Environics survey of 1500 adults in the NCR last fall. It reveals that many people are unaware of the change in the NCC's mandate imposed by the government in 2013. For example, 42 percent thought that the NCC was still responsible for Winterlude.
Andrew Seymour, in the Ottawa Citizen of May 1, quoted Pierre Poilièvre, speaking at a rally of more than 500 people on the site, as saying: "It is shameful thatthe Liberals and the NDP have come out against building this monument at this site, and it is shameful that some in the media have done the same."
A column by Joanne Chianello in the Ottawa Citizen of May 2 highlights the two faces of MP Pierre Poilièvre, now the Minister responsible for the NCC and our region -- supportive of the city when it comes to investments in infrastructure, but stubbornly partisan about, for instance, the memorial to the victims of communism. Says Chianello: "Maybe that sort of hyperbole is par for the course for politics. Maybe he'll grow out of it?" Let's hope so.
Within 15 minutes (at 6:30 p.m., Friday), the Minister responds:
"Thanks very much...........ted
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Rogers network."
A formal letter followed, dated March 23. It states: "As part of the review, the Government of Ontario is committed to introducing the option for Ontario municipalities to use ranked ballots in future elections, starting in 2018, as an alternative to first-past-the-post."