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Montreal council supports public recognition of Wiesel

Elie Wiesel makes an appearance at Concordia University in 2010.

Montreal city council unanimously adopted a motion to name a public place in honour of Elie Wiesel at its Sept. 17 meeting.

It speaks of the late Holocaust survivor and author’s “exceptional life and the importance of his work.”

The motion was tabled by independent Coun. Marvin Rotrand and seconded by Coun. Emilie Thuilluer, the executive committee member responsible for heritage, opposition Ensemble Montréal Leader Lionel Perez and Coun. Andrée Hénault of Equipe Anjou.

The motion mandates the urban planning department to work with the toponymy commission to find a suitable place by July 2, 2021, the fifth anniversary of Wiesel’s death.

“In all, six councillors spoke in favour of the motion, representing all parties and independents,” said Rotrand, a councillor for 37 years and the son of Holocaust survivors. “It was a very uplifting experience.”

Last month, Rotrand tabled letters of recommendation from numerous groups and individuals in favour of such a naming, to which he has added documentation from Irwin Cotler on Wiesel’s merits.

The motion reproduces the citation of the Nobel committee, when Wiesel was presented with the peace prize in 1986. It describes him as “a messenger of humanity. He spreads a message of peace, of redemption and of human dignity.… The engagement of Elie Wiesel, which originated in the suffering of the Jewish people, has enlarged to encompass all people and all races that know repression.”

The motion notes that the author of 57 books, including Night, which recounts his relatives’ murder and his own experience in the Nazi camps, was an ardent defender of universal human rights and the necessity of intervening to prevent crimes against humanity.

Rotrand has not suggested what type of public place he thinks would be suitable and is leaving the decision to the municipal authorities.