Canada’s National Holocaust Monument was dedicated in Ottawa on Sept. 27. The project was initiated by the Harper Tories after a March 2011 private member’s bill introduced by then-cabinet minister Tim Uppal received unanimous consent, and was completed by the Trudeau Liberals.
Unfortunately, the pomp and circumstance associated with this ceremony, the culmination of then-University of Ottawa student Laura Grosman’s proposal, quickly turned sour when people looked at the plaque, which contained the following words:
“The National Holocaust Monument commemorates the millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust and honours the survivors who persevered and were able to make their way to Canada after one of the darkest chapters in history. The monument recognizes the contribution these survivors have made to Canada and serves as a reminder that we must be vigilant in standing guard against hate, intolerance and discrimination.”
Notice anything missing? That’s right – there’s not a single reference to the Jews.
As news began to spread, the Liberal machine launched into damage control mode.
Ottawa claimed it was an oversight. Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announced that a new plaque “that reflects the horrors experienced by the Jewish People” would be ordered. Rabbi Daniel Friedman, chair of the monument’s advisory council, accepted blame for the mistake. Left-leaning political and media personalities praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for dealing with the matter promptly. Some Jewish organizations breathed heavy sighs of relief.
Nevertheless, many Canadians, including myself, remain skeptical about the sequence of events that led up to “Plaquegate.” It’s not because we think Trudeau and the Liberals are Holocaust deniers (they’re not), but because it just doesn’t add up.
For one thing, there’s an established protocol related to important federal political events, such as the dedication of a Holocaust memorial. When I was working for former prime minister Stephen Harper, I was involved in meetings with fellow Tories, staffers, bureaucrats and key stakeholders who reviewed everything from the prime minister’s speeches, to the athletic uniforms being considered for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Everything from words, images, guests and colour schemes was vetted, fact-checked and agonized over.
It’s true that the Harper government operated differently than the Trudeau government does. But if one is going to suggest that no one caught the advisory council’s initial mistake during the revision processes, it’s just not believable. If one accepts this faulty logic, it would also mean that the people involved with the Holocaust Memorial’s creation were completely incompetent.
Meanwhile, this is actually the second incident involving the Trudeau Liberals forgetting about mentioning the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. In a Jan. 27, 2016, press release on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Liberals didn’t mention the Jews in the original draft, which was supposedly released in error. The Prime Minister’s Office acknowledged the mistake and sent out a tweet linking to the faulty statement and saying: “On this Holocaust Memorial Day, we honour its victims & vow to fight intolerance and anti-Semitism.”
The word still isn’t there, as you may have noticed. But Liberal supporters (Jewish and non-Jewish) argued that the omission was fine, because previous federal governments, including Harper’s, didn’t always include a reference to “Jews” in Holocaust-related press releases and speeches, either. Non-Jews also died in this Holocaust, and in other holocausts.
I don’t disagree. Yet, isn’t it a little strange that this particular mistake has occurred twice in two years? Shouldn’t the Liberals have been extra careful to ensure that Jews were mentioned in a plaque that would stand long after their time in office? And, even though we know that human beings are fallible, how many times should the Canadian Jewish community forgive this group of people for making the same bloody error?
Think about this when it happens again. Based on recent history, it undoubtedly will.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist, Washington Times contributor and TV/radio pundit, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.