Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Monument: Cold War throwback

On the so-called “Monument to Victims of Communism”

Issued by the Central Executive Committee,
Communist Party of Canada
September 3, 2013

The Communist Party of Canada is appalled that the federal Conservative government will provide a massive taxpayer donation of $1.5 million under Citizenship and Immigration’s Inter-Action program, to help build a so-called “monument to victims of communism” in Ottawa. Despite opposition, approval has previously been
granted by the National Capital Commission for a site between Library and Archives Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada.

The monument project is a throwback to the sordid era of the Cold War, which resulted in a wave of anti-communist frenzy, RCMP spying, witch-hunts, blacklisting, social ostracism, imprisonment and deportations against many progressive-minded Canadians. Such policies had a terrible “chilling effect” on public discourse and sharply curtailed the freedom of expression and associated democratic and trade union rights of all Canadians. The sponsors of this monument are now attempting to revive this tragic McCarthyist era of red-baiting, which had been tossed into the dustbin of history.

The “Tribute to Liberty” group operates as a charitable foundation, despite the federal government’s denial of charitable status to organizations which engage in political advocacy (a biased policy which exempts right-wing groups linked to the Harper Conservatives, such as the Fraser Institute). The “Tribute to Liberty” organizers are well aware of the highly-charged political nature of said `monument’. As they admitted several years ago, the proposal’s “commemorative theme remains not entirely compatible with the NCC’s policy for commemorations that mark national events or individuals. However, the international significance of the proposed subject is gaining considerable profile and support from various foreign governments…”

Indeed, they openly celebrate their “significant high-level political support”, as confirmed by press reports indicating that Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism), and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have given active encouragement to this defamatory initiative. Having raised only a fraction of their $4 million fundraising target, the organizers have now been given the bulk of the remaining funds by their Tory friends.

The political implications of this proposal go far beyond the National Capital Region, or Canada as a whole. In Europe, recent years have seen a concerted campaign to whip up a renewed atmosphere of anti-communism. A resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) equates fascism and communism, a nauseating attempt to rewrite the history of the 20th century. Anti-communist attacks have been launched by governments against Communist parties and affiliated organizations in several countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Ukraine, Estonia, Greece and elsewhere, without any legal or justifiable basis. The true underlying goal of this campaign is intended to intimidate and isolate progressive parties and movements, and to limit the free expression of ideas.

The authors of the monument proposal go so far as to turn history on its head, claiming that the monument would “honour the 100 million lives lost under Communist regimes” — a figure which includes the estimated 25 million Soviet citizens who perished at the hands of the Nazi invaders during World War II, defending their homeland, fighting heroically as allies of Canada in the war against Hitlerism.

Announcing his government’s support for the project, Jason Kenney stated that “it will also serve as a reminder to all Canadians that glorifying Communist symbols insults the memory of these victims…” We must ask: among those who are allegedly “insulted” by Communist symbols, does Mr. Kenney mean the supporters of Nazi aggression, which was decisively defeated on the eastern front by Soviet troops under the banner of the Red Flag? And do the Conservatives intend to follow the example of other reactionary governments which have used similar arguments in their attempts to ban Communist symbols?

We must further note that the name for this monument also defames the many accomplishments of communist parties which have formed governments, in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, and Vietnam, or taken part in governments, including South Africa, India, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, etc.

This proposal also represents a profoundly unjust attack on Canadian Communists, who have made many pioneering contributions since 1921, such as fighting against fascism, organizing industrial workers into unions, initiating movements to win Unemployment Insurance, public healthcare and other social programs, to campaign for peace and disarmament, fighting for the full national rights of Aboriginal peoples and Quebec, and to defend Canada’s sovereignty.

It is deeply unfortunate that the NCC set aside its initial misgivings and violated its own guidelines to allow construction of this monument, and that Canadians are being compelled to pay for this red-baiting project which falsely blames Communists for the crimes of fascism. We demand that these decisions be reversed, before this celebration of anti-communism becomes a permanent shameful blot on the capital city of Canada.

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