Green Cove update
Opposition campaign scores a victory
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.