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National Holocaust Monument

Hon. Linda Frum: Leader, the National Holocaust Monument is an impressive memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. This monument was made possible due to the significant financial contributions of the Harper government and private donors. It stands prominently in our National Capital Region as a powerful reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the capacity for evil on this earth against which we must always be vigilant.

For this reason, I am disappointed to learn that the National Capital Commission is planning to close the monument during the winter months. The purpose of the Holocaust monument is to memorialize and to educate, not just on sunny days but every day, all year round. Surely I do not need to put on the record that Ottawa ranks among the coldest, snowiest capitals in the world.

Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that failing to allow visitors from Canada and abroad to visit the monument during the winter is wrong? And will he work with the Minister of Heritage to make sure the monument is open to the public throughout the year?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question and her involvement in the creation of this monument. It is truly spectacular. I had occasion to go see it the other day, and it is a tribute of appropriate memorialization of this horrific event.

As the premise of the question itself suggests, the monument is under the supervision of the National Capital Commission. It is the policy of the National Capital Commission on this and other memorials in the Ottawa capital region that there be protection from potential winter weather damage and to therefore limit access to sites. I’m informed that this is part of the National Capital Commission’s mandate to protect this and other sites.

What I will obviously do is bring the question of the honourable senator to the attention of the appropriate authorities, both ministerial and the National Capital Commission, so that the sentiments of this chamber are well understood.

Senator Frum: Thank you for that, leader. I appreciate it.

It was part of the enacting legislation that responsibility for the maintenance of the monument falls to the Minister of Heritage. It’s a choice that she can make to have the monument shovelled during the winter or not; it’s her responsibility to provide the maintenance. The maintenance could be provided if she wanted it to be so that it would be accessible to all during the winter.

So I leave that with you. If you can come back to me with the reason why she has opted not to have the monument protected from snow and ice so that visitors — it’s not to protect the monument. It’s to make it viable for visitors to come and see the monument when it is snowing in Ottawa.

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