Imagine seeing a place like this
turned into this.
Stephen Harper has decided it's a good idea to build a 10 storey Colossus memorializing Canada's military history along the rugged, windswept coastline of the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The statue will be part of a proposed "Never Forgotten National Memorial" inside the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The plans for the memorial, brilliantly conceived by food-packaging baron and "enthusiastic patriot" Tony Trigiani were described to the Globe and Mail:
Mr. Trigiani is planning to place a "We See Thee Rise Observation Deck" in front of the Mother Canada statue, and behind it "The Commemorative Ring of True Patriot Love," a low wall featuring metal plaques naming the international cemeteries where Canadian soldiers are buried. He's also planning a "With Glowing Hearts National Sanctuary," as well as a restaurant, souvenir shop and interpretive centre.
Siting any structure in a National Park sets a precedent that calls into question the very reason to even have National Parks. If a consortium of wealthy individuals can ride roughshod over the Parks' legal protections, then the Parks are no longer safe.
The names of the fallen will not be commemorated by this monument - only those of the sponsors will appear, carved in stone. That is, after all, the incentive for getting them to contribute in the first place - it is there, for all to see, on the official website. They are paying to have their name and/or brand immortalised on this so-called 'monument', while the names of those it is meant to honour will not be. That isn't patriotism, it's marketing, and to use the dead to sell stuff is an insult to their sacrifice. A monument should remember those who sacrificed their lives for their country, not those who sacrificed a small proportion of their disposable income for brand awareness.
Finally - it's really, REALLY ugly.
Just in case you need to know more about this project there's more news here. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with just a few of the hundreds of comments made to the Guardian:
* Not to mention the I-Love-Me Harper Hall! Plus, what names! What grandiose, egocentric, egotistical megalomaniacal names! What typical of tyrannical regimes names! Amazing the approach is not being named the Avenue of Glorious Leader Harper!
* Sitting Bull and other Lakota described Queen Victoria as 'Grandmother England' and thought of Canada as a place of sanctuary - just stick a big statue of Victoria facing the US.
* They should build a statue of a giant oil sands truck and call it "mother of all fuck ups".
* Not so much "Mother Canada" as "The Mummy" Canada".....
* Perhaps instead a statue of Pierre Trudeau doing his pirouette? A monument to the last Canadian prime minister with any real character or brains.
* War already does a pretty good job of eradicating natural beauty, so yeah, let's commemorate that by eradicating some natural beauty.
* Interesting to compare the triumphantly open-armed Mother Canada with the bowed and grieving Canada Bereft Vimy memorial, which at least makes the point that war is a desperately sad business. An example of a new mood of sentimental jingoism, now that WW2 is more than half a century away.
* Meanwhile about 120 First Nations communities in Canada are on boil water advisories, some for as long as 20 years. Typically the Harper government would rather spend our tax dollars on self congratulatory projects like this than improving the third world conditions of Canadian First Nations living in one of the richest countries in the world.
* A final insult to the east coast before Harper goes. To sell out national parkland to a private enterprise for such a stupid idea is just plain wrong. You're not allowed to pick a single flower in these parks and he wants to pour concrete all over Green Cove. The gratitude we have to our fallen soldiers is felt by all, but to use our sentiments to sell this piece of tacky schlock is pathetic.
* The bigger-is-better approach to art is best left to Stalinist tyrants, theme park entrepreneurs and insecure municipalities.
* This is not the only oversized piece of controversial memorial "art" that Harper's Conservative government is working on. They are going to build a massive "Monument for the Victims of Communism" outside the Supreme Court building on Parliament Hill.
No indication where the "Monument for the Aboriginal Victims of Canada" is going to be located, thus proving that it is much easier to commemorate other people's victims.
* I think Cape Breton needs a 100' statue of the McKenzie brothers, hockey sticks draped over their shoulders, a beer in the other hand of course, and big smiles showing the requisite 3 or 4 missing teeth. Now that says everything about the Canadian psyche that needs to be said...eh?
Happy Canada Day on the 1st of July
Happy Independence Day on the 4th
We'll try to be back sooner next time :)