Mon­ster in the mak­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Eastern Pas­sages Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Media’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­skyWanger­sky@tc.tc.

OK, so I’ve al­ready been pretty clear about the fact that I’m no fan of the Mother Canada statue pro­posed for a na­tional park in Cape Bre­ton.

The statue, of a 30-me­tre high woman with her arms out­stretched, is a hugely blown-up ver­sion of the statue Canada Bereft at Vimy Ridge.

The statue at Vimy car­ries the nick­name Mother Canada — that’s also the name given to the mon­ster statue planned for Green Cove in Cape Bre­ton, a pro­ject with a bud­get some­where be­tween $25 mil­lion and $60 mil­lion.

But while it’s in­ter­est­ing that the Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial (NFNM) char­ity group wants to spend mil­lions to build the well, hideously over­sized and over­wrought statue (and seems to be de­vel­op­ing a taste for public money as well) there’s another part of the whole thing that leaves a sour taste for me.

When the Vimy Foun­da­tion com­plained about the new pro­ject’s use of the Vimy statue’s Mother Canada nick­name, they were in­formed by the NFNM group’s lawyer that the NFNM had taken out a trade­mark on both the statue’s like­ness and its nick­name - so, es­sen­tially, the Vimy Foun­da­tion could take a hike.

The trade­mark is an in­ter­est­ing one: it says that the group wants to pro­vide ser­vices like the “Op­er­a­tion, preser­va­tion and main­te­nance of a me­mo­rial park com­mem­o­rat­ing Cana­dian war vet­er­ans” and pro­vide “public ed­u­ca­tion, aware­ness and in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing Cana­dian war vet­er­ans.”

OK then. But then there’s the other part of the trade­mark.

Now, trade­mark reg­is­tra­tion doesn’t mean you’re nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to use your trade­mark on ev­ery type of goods and ser­vices you get the trade­mark for, but this trade­mark — you can see it here: http://bit.ly/1G9nOTt — talks about a huge range of goods that the group wants the pro­tec­tion of a Mother Canada trade­mark for.

Here’s a start: “Cloth­ing namely, ca­sual cloth­ing, T-shirts, sweat­shirts, sweat­pants, jack­ets, polo shirts, golf shirts, dress shirts, neck­ties, tank tops, un­der­wear, vests, sweaters, gloves, mit­tens, scarves, baby cloth­ing, baby bibs; hats; base­ball caps; toques; vi­sors; baby caps; head­gear, namely, sports head­gear, sports hel­mets, ban­danas, bal­a­clavas, head­bands; Ac­ces­sories, namely, sun­glasses, hair ac­ces­sories, socks, belts, belt buck­les, sus­penders, tie clips, money clips, purses; knap­sacks; overnight bags; school bags; back­packs; re­cy­clable shop­ping bags and totes; beach bags; beach tow­els; ...”

Af­ter another 144 words of trade­marked items, you get to Mother Canada-themed “Toys, namely, plush toys, stuffed an­i­mals, squeez­able squeak­ing toys, bath toys, puzzles; fly­ing discs; toy spin­ners; key chains; key hold­ers; nov­elty but­tons; coins; com­mem­o­ra­tive plates; li­cence plate hold­ers; crests; fig­urines; frames for pho­to­graphs and pic­tures; fridge mag­nets; ash­trays; ve­hi­cle wind­shield sun­shades; flash­lights; golf balls; pill cases; sil­i­con and silkscreen bracelets.”

Now, maybe a Mother Canada squeez­able squeak­ing toy gives you —like me — a short sharp at­tack of the gig­gles.

But still fur­ther on, things get a lit­tle dis­turb­ing, es­pe­cially when you start to think about Mother Canada’s im­age and name re­lated to these items: “Mil­i­tary cloth­ing, mil­i­tary uni­forms, belts, belt buck­les, cuff­links; mil­i­tary ac­tion toy fig­ures, model air­planes, toy model ve­hi­cles and re­lated ac­ces­sories, ra­dio-con­trolled model ve­hi­cles, toy pis­tols; mil­i­tary patches for cloth­ing, mil­i­tary medal rib­bons, mil­i­tary badges, medals, medal­lions, lapel pins; mil­i­tary dog tags, drink­ing flasks, can­teens, pocket knives, lighters.”

Even more alarm­ing? “Mil­i­tary themed games, namely, ac­tion skill games, ar­cade games, board games, card games, com­puter games, party games, role­play­ing games, video games; mil­i­tary com­mem­o­ra­tive col­lec­tor stamps (ex­clud­ing postage stamps); mil­i­tary-themed coins; mil­i­tary flags.”

As I’ve said, just be­cause it’s in the trade­mark, doesn’t mean that it’s nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to be made.

But when you con­sider that the mon­u­ment is meant to rec­og­nize the hor­ri­ble sac­ri­fices made by vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies, it’s hard to con­ceive what sort of mil­i­tary ar­cade game or com­puter game would need to fall un­der the pro­ject’s trade­mark pro­tec­tion um­brella. It’s just adding hideous to hideous.

An artist’s ren­di­tion of the pro­posed Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial in Green Cove. A com­mu­nity group has raised some ob­jec­tions to the me­mo­rial.

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