Our nation’s capital is filled with monuments to various tragedies and events that have occurred both at home and abroad throughout history. Some of the more famous examples include the National War Memorial, the Peacekeeping Monument, and the Canadian Police Memoriam. Last December the federal government likewise unanimously passed a private member’s bill which will see the creation of a Holocaust memorial in Ottawa within the next 3 years. Yet while this monument is undoubtedly overdue, there is perhaps another tragedy which can lay equal claim to deserving a monument in its honour – the past and continuing crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian communist regimes.
Over the past 90 years, communist regimes have borne witness to some of the greatest tragedies ever committed against humankind. Their transgressions include not only numerous and blatant human rights violations, but also the wanton murder of millions upon millions of innocent men, women, and children. In the former U.S.S.R. alone the number of people estimated to have died as a direct result of the communist regime’s actions amounts to some 20 million individuals. In China the number is even greater, approaching nearly 65 million and still rising. Globally the number of people who died under communist regimes worldwide is said to be slightly less than 100 million with some of the more prominent examples including Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia and Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s regimes in North Korea.
It is for this reason that the group Tribute to Liberty has worked tirelessly to see a monument built in honour of these victims. Since 2007 they have held public meetings, lobbied government, and engaged in fundraising efforts so that one day a tribute to the millions dead and those still suffering under oppressive communist regimes may be realized. In their endeavour they have been supported by the federal government who in 2010 approved the construction of the memorial and allocated land in Ottawa to that end. Those MPs expressing personal support include Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, and Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae.
As will all monuments, this one shall serve to remind us of the horrible atrocities which occurred in humanity’s not so distant past and thereby better prepare and protect us in the future from making the same mistakes again. Yet without financial aid, despite all the support the project has received from the government, the monument will never be realized and the victims over time forgotten. To that end, Tribute to Liberty has fundraised for months and continues to fundraise in the hopes of reaching their goal of $1.5 million. It is important that we, as citizens who benefit from the freedom and prosperity that a democratic government guarantees, make every effort to contribute what time and money we can to philanthropic efforts such as this one. In doing so, we honour not only our own democratic freedoms but also the memories of those who were not so fortunate to have enjoyed the same during their lifetimes.
A monument to the victims of communist regimes furthermore serves to affirm the reality that communism, as a viable government structure and ideology, is both unworkable and undesirable. In a world where statist philosophies to the extreme left and right still garner support amongst certain individuals, it is important to reaffirm our belief that democratic government is and will remain the best choice for the protection of individual freedoms and continued economic prosperity.
The Herald would like to congratulate and thank Tribute to Liberty for their tireless efforts in this matter and wish them success in their future fundraising. It is our sincerest hope that with a bit of luck and hard work, we shall one day have the honour of standing before a new monument in Ottawa dedicated to the millions of innocent victims of communist regimes around the world.
For more information on Tribute to Liberty, including how you can donate, please visithttp://www.tributetoliberty.ca/index.html.