OTTAWA – The Liberal government says the towering Mother Canada monument will not be built in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, as proponents claim the controversial memorial has become a victim of politics.
Parks Canada said Friday there are too many unknowns about the proposed Never Forgotten National Memorial ahead of the July 1, 2017, target date, including funding and a definitive design for the monument at rugged Green Cove.
“Parks Canada will no longer be working towards the realization of the memorial in Cape Breton Highlands National Park,” Parks Canada CEO Daniel Watson said in a statement.
“Parks Canada appreciates the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation’s vision in honouring Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and wishes the Foundation success in its on-going pursuits.”
Meg Stokes of the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation said Friday the group is disappointed and shocked. She suggested that the statue, which had support in the former Conservative government, had become a political pawn.
“We are heartbroken that our project has fallen victim to politics and deeply saddened that so many people in Cape Breton … were treated in this shocking manner by Parks Canada. This is disappointing to veterans across the country and the current members of the Canadian Forces who support this project.”
The 24-metre statue depicts a doleful woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe and the Canada Bereft monument at Vimy in France.
The draped figure, meant to embrace soldiers who never returned from distant conflicts, is the brainchild of Toronto businessman Tony Trigiano, who was struck by the number of young Canadians buried in a European cemetery he visited.
It has attracted support across the country, including a former prime minister, business heavyweights, prominent journalists and the president of the Calgary Flames.
But the ambitious project has also cleaved opinion. Many have said it has no business in a national park and that it cheapens the memory of the war dead who are already commemorated at hundreds of less audacious sites.
The Never Forgotten foundation said it spent four years on the memorial, and believed it would not harm the environment as some critics argued.