National Capital Commission—Appointment of Directors

Hon. Jim Munson: I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

I am reading here that the National Capital Commission has just revealed a smaller, redesigned Memorial to Victims of Communism. They have unveiled a redesigned plan for the controversial memorial, much smaller than the original design, but still not in a very good place. It looks like it will now only take 37 per cent of the grounds in front of Supreme Court as opposed to 60 per cent.

That has just happened, and yet your government has just quietly made five new appointments to the board of directors of the National Capital Commission. I wonder how that happened.

The Ottawa Citizen noted in its report this morning that this was done on the eve of the contentious NCC meeting. This is a meeting tonight where people are supposed to give public input into this very controversial memorial.

Nobody disagrees with the idea of having a memorial to victims of communism. This city, the majority of the residents — architects, city council, you name it in this town — do not like its location. Why is your government so unwilling to entertain any criticisms or questions about this project?

The whole idea of these five new appointments, did that happen out of nowhere and it just so happened they were Conservative appointments?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator, I will take no lessons from a Liberal government or former Liberals when it comes to partisan appointments. Your record on that is such that we could never hope to make even 10 per cent of the partisan appointments you made in your history.

As for victims of communism, as I have said, this is a commemorative monument honouring the memory of the more than 100 million people who lost their lives under communist regimes. It will pay tribute to the Canadian ideals of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.

Senator, over eight million Canadians have roots in countries that suffered under communism. Our government committed to paying tribute to victims of communism in its 2010 Speech from the Throne. We are keen to keep that promise.

The location of the memorial near the Supreme Court of Canada is altogether fitting considering its theme.

[English]

Senator Munson: That’s the issue. Nobody has any issue with the idea of a monument to the victims of communism. At one time you were going to call it the memorial to victims of totalitarian communism, but somehow that was removed by Mr. Baird.

If you are going to listen to the people, why not listen to the people of Ottawa? They have said very clearly that this monument is in the wrong place and should be put in another spot.

This area was a designated parliamentary and judicial precinct for the Supreme Court of Canada, for the House of Commons, you name it, that’s what this was about, and everybody knows that. Because of political partisanship and because of others who have been influencing this government, they decided: “What a wonderful place for this monument.”

When you talk about victims of communism having lived in what Conservatives once called Red China, communist China, will this memorial also talk about the Chinese victims of communism in that country, a country that we are doing business with each and every day?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator, as I said, the monument will honour the more than 100 million lives lost under communist regimes and pay tribute to the Canadian ideals of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. I believe that its location near the Supreme Court of Canada, the symbol of the rule of law, is entirely appropriate.