The victims of communism probably deserve better

After all they’ve been through, what’s one more indignity to the victims of communism?

Seems the federal government has decided the best way to honour those crushed under brutal regimes is to turn their cause into a political football with a robust and bafflingly reasonable opposition.

It’s too bad, really. Things didn’t really need to be this way. It should be hard as hell to argue against a monument honouring an estimated 100-million dead. But, this isn’t really a government known for having a deft hand for neutralizing criticism and bringing opposition onside. 

Monstrous as the design may be—you can judge for yourself here—there are plenty of folks who would otherwise be supportive of such a thing, or at least have no real reason to disapprove of it, that aren’t all that hot on its proposed location. The enormous waves of concrete are set to be built by the Supreme Court.

The Canadian designers’ original idea was to have an image of a mass grave from the Katyn Massacre of 1940 carved into the waves and visible when you stand atop a raised platform. But ABSTRAKT Studio, the monument’s designers, say they have decided not to show the exhumed rows of the summarily executed. The images on their website are just a mockup. Whatever they do eventually decide on, the designers say it will be “a positive image based on the idea of Canada being a land of refuge,” according to an Ottawa Citizen report.

The way the government has tried to sell it hasn’t helped either. Sending Pierre Poilievre out as one of your lead proponents is not a signal that you’re looking to be constructive.

The esteemed minister says that he hasn’t heard from anybody who wants what was originally planned for the spot, a Federal Court building, to be built. It’s shameful, he says, “to oppose the site of the Victims of Communism Monument, in favour of a Government building for lawyers.” Can you imagine building another government building for lawyers? In front of a government building for lawyers, next to a government building for political staffers, kitty-corner to a government building for central bankers?

The mind reels.

Poliviere’s cries the Canadian common man was onside with the project seem to have gone unheeded by the city the monument is to be built in. (Perhaps, because he has a habit of being flippant when he makes such pronouncements.) Ottawa city council passed a motion this week requesting the government build the thing elsewhere. 

So there it stands. Now the government is in a pissing match with another level of government and is dealing with oodles of bad press. They’ve dug in and won’t budge from the design or the location. Should the monument be built as it is, it’ll become known, at least partly, as the monument a bunch of people didn’t want.

By not allowing for the possibility of a reasoned opposition, the government is left with the unreasonable prospect of having no support.

And maybe that’s how they want it. By successfully championing the victims of communism and standing up against those who wouldn’t build the monument, they get to claim political victory.

This should have been more about courting the votes of an oppressed diaspora. Communist regimes all over the world did horrible, horrendous things to the people they ground into submission. That’s all been lost in the petty way the government has tried to push this monument through.

The victims of communism deserve to be commemorated, it shouldn’t be this hard.