---- Memorial for the victims of ... what?
Among the surprises of this month's federal budget was a doubling of funds for Harper's "victims of communism" 2010 memorial in Ottawa. With a total of near $7 million, this should be one heck of a memorial.
And it is indeed a beauty ... unpublished designs from Toronto's Paul Raff Studio show a striking cascade of luminous pipes which will reflect both light and sound as each day progresses. The design is phenomenal, fitting the creative capacities of Mr Raff. But today our question might better be ... why?
There are plenty of victims of communism, no matter how that's defined. Victims of a sociopath tyrant, Stalin, should be remembered, although does this open the door for memorializing the victims of, say, capitalism's systemic police racism? Or of our supposed health care's systemic racism? There's no shortage of victims! Just check today's national media newscasts ... but we're remembering foreign victims here.
This pet project of ex-PM Harper looks backwards, unsurprisingly. It continues the battles of the past, which are much too numerous and contentious for a single monument. Armenians, Kurds, Palestinians, Rohingya; Black people, Asian immigrants, Aboriginal Canadians -- for a start. If only some deserve a memorial, who are the others, history's chopped liver? Canada might better focus on our present and future -- it's unlikely many folks will be agitating for a Communist system here!
An much more-relevant memorial today would include, certainly if we were Russians or Japanese, memorials for all those who lost lives and livelihoods, homes and schools, businesses and sanctuary in the nuclear disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima. Whether those tragedies were initiated by natural causes or by human error is difficult to isolate. It seems both were a perfect storm of errors ... yet in the short history of nuclear power, these perfect storms seem much more common than we'd expect. Fukushima was designed by one of the most technological-advanced societies in the world, and yet succumbed to a not-uncommon natural disaster, plus human design errors. Chernobyl was designed by a culture which had put the first human into space. (There's also Three Mile Island, Canada's own 1950s Chalk River disaster, lost nuclear submarines and bombers, stray bombs, washed-out nuclear dumps...)
This budget's millions for a memorial, plus billions for nuclear projects -- let's put them together. The Liberal government seems determined to fund SNC Lavalin's scheme for an eight-story mound of radioactive material along the Ottawa River, just above us, and on top an active earthquake fault. Let's get this memorial ready right now!
How about a Victims of Nuclear Irresponsibility Memorial? It could list all those leaders today who support the Lavalin project: from municipal officials to our local MPs, the Minister of Natural Resources and other cabinet members, right to the PM. Give them their due, their place in history! Seven million dollars should work.