Me­mo­rial op­po­nents en­cour­aged by sup­port


A coali­tion aimed at stop­ping the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Com­mis­sion erect­ing the Me­mo­rial to Vic­tims of Com­mu­nism at a con­tro­ver­sial down­town site says public sup­port for their Fed­eral Court case has “ex­ceeded” their ex­pec­ta­tions.

Ot­tawa ar­chi­tect Barry Padol­sky is lead­ing the group op­posed to the lo­ca­tion of the me­mo­rial. Padol­sky made a public ap­peal on the eve of Canada Day, ask­ing for do­na­tions to help pay the group’s le­gal fees.

He said of­fers have been flood­ing in over the past 36 hours and that the group will be able to re­port a fund­ing amount by next week.

“I’m en­cour­aged ... by peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to make a con­tri­bu­tion to help sup­port our le­gal chal­lenge to stop the con­struc­tion of the me­mo­rial,” Padol­sky said Thurs­day. “At the same time, I’m ac­tu­ally over­whelmed by the fact that so many peo­ple seem to be up­set by ar­bi­trary mea­sures of the gov­ern­ment to of­fer this site, which was com­mit­ted for the fed­eral court build­ing.”

In their ap­peal, the group was care­ful to point out that it is not op­posed to the me­mo­rial it­self, just its lo­ca­tion on Welling­ton Street near the Supreme Court.

“We feel that our gov­ern­ment has done an end run around the quite won­der­ful master plan for the par­lia­men­tary and ju­di­cial precincts,” Padol­sky said. “And we think they shouldn’t be al­lowed to do that.”

The site was orig­i­nally in­tended to house a new Fed­eral Court of Canada build­ing, which was to be one of three ju­di­cial build­ings mir­ror­ing Par­lia­ment’s three build­ings.

“The Gov­ern­ment’s ap­proved Long Term Vi­sion and Plan in­cludes the vi­sion of com­plet­ing a har­mo­nious “triad” within the ju­di­cial precinct by erect­ing a new Fed­eral Court build­ing on the site — not a Me­mo­rial to the Vic­tims of Com­mu­nism,” the ap­peal for sup­port says.

The group is ask­ing that do­na­tions be made through PayPal, cheque or elec­tronic bank trans­fer di­rectly to Champ and As­so­ci­ates, the Ot­tawa law firm rep­re­sent­ing the group.

“It’s go­ing into trust,” Paul Champ, owner and se­nior part­ner of the firm, said in an in­ter­view. “It will be pay­ing what­ever fees are re­quired. The ex­cess will be do­nated.”

Champ says be­cause there won’t be a trial it shouldn’t be too ex­pen­sive.

“We’ve writ­ten to the gov­ern­ment and asked that they don’t break ground this sum­mer,” he said. “We have re­ceived a re­sponse from the depart­ment of jus­tice and they’ve in­di­cated to us that they will not break­ing ground for at least the next two weeks.”

Champ says that if af­ter two weeks the depart­ment of public works does plan to go ahead, he’ll be told, and they will go to court to file an in­junc­tion to stop them from break­ing ground.

The goal is that no work is done un­til their case has been heard, which Champ says could be as late as the start of the new year.

Champ says that the NCC has failed to con­sult the public and doesn’t have all the ap­provals re­quired to be­gin pre­par­ing the site.

“When you are mak­ing a de­ci­sion about some of the most sym­bolic land in Canada, frankly, the gov­ern­ment has a duty to en­sure the public has been ad­e­quately con­sulted,” he said.


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