Green Cove up­date

Op­po­si­tion cam­paign scores a vic­tory

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON -

Our ed­i­to­rial weighs in on the latest chap­ter in the Bat­tle for Green Cove.

Score one for the Friends of Green Cove. In the bat­tle for hearts and minds re­gard­ing a pro­posed war me­mo­rial in the Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park, this cit­i­zens’ ac­tion group has for months ze­roed in on the Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion’s (NFNM) 30 or so honorary pa­trons and asked them to re­con­sider their sup­port.

Their ar­gu­ment? That con­struc­tion of the es­ti­mated $25-mil­lion ‘Mother Canada’ me­mo­rial at Green Cove is a “be­trayal” of Parks Canada’s core man­date to pro­tect the lands and coast in its care.

Some ‘Friends’ don’t want to see the 24-me­tre high me­mo­rial built, pe­riod. Oth­ers just don’t want to see it in the na­tional park.

At least one honorary pa­tron, Nova Sco­tia Lib­eral MP Scott Bri­son, must have taken that mes­sage to heart re­cently when he with­drew his name with­out ex­pla­na­tion.

Now comes word that three high pro­file Cana­dian jour­nal­ists – Peter Mans­bridge, chief cor­re­spon­dent of CBC News; Lisa LaFlamme, se­nior editor of CTV Na­tional News; and for­mer CTV news an­chor Lloyd Robert­son – have re­signed as honorary pa­trons.

“I de­cided you can't cover a con­tro­versy by be­ing in one,” ex­plained Mans­bridge in an email state­ment to the CBC. “It's be­come a wide­spread con­tro­versy now.”

Well, fact is, the pro­posed me­mo­rial has been be­sieged by con­tro­versy al­most from the mo­ment it first be­came public nearly two years ago. If only the pa­trons had been read­ing the Cape Bre­ton Post online they might bet­ter have ap­pre­ci­ated the hor­net’s nest they were wad­ing into, right?

But se­ri­ously, Mans­bridge, LaFlamme and Robert­son no doubt had good in­ten­tions when they threw their weight be­hind this pro­ject. Af­ter all, it is a me­mo­rial to the 118,000 Cana­dian vet­er­ans who, ac­cord­ing to the NFNM web­site, “lost their lives so far from home in de­fence of this great na­tion and its never end­ing quest for in­ter­na­tional peace.” What’s not to like?

The prob­lem for jour­nal­ists, how­ever, boils down to po­ten­tial con­flict of in­ter­est. How can a na­tional news com­men­ta­tor or any jour­nal­ist, for that mat­ter, pro­mote an is­sue on the one hand and ob­jec­tively re­port about it on the other?

The an­swer is pretty clear. They can’t and any le­git­i­mate news­room no doubt has poli­cies in place spell­ing out that fact.

So, the Friends of Green Cove have to feel pretty good this week that sup­port for the war me­mo­rial has been eroded ever so slightly.

Fact is, they are clearly win­ning the public re­la­tions cam­paign re­gard­ing this is­sue. They even man­aged to gain cov­er­age re­cently in The Guardian, one of the largest news­pa­pers in the United King­dom, and they no doubt will con­tinue to ex­ert pres­sure as Parks Canada fi­nal­izes its me­mo­rial con­struc­tion en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

But will it be enough? With con­cerns that Parks Canada will fast-track this pro­ject by Labour Day, is it rea­son­able to think that some back­track­ing by a few jour­nal­ists will tip the scales in any dis­cernible fash­ion?

Time will tell.

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