UPDATE: Canadians need to fight for Vimy Park

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UPDATE: Canadians need to fight for Vimy Park



Eighty three years ago, Vimy Park in Montreal was dedicated to honour the 3,600 Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge, and the thousands who were wounded.

A month before the upcoming 99th Remembrance Day after Vimy Ridge, the Borough of Outremont unceremoniously tore down the Vimy Park sign, and in glorious splendour raised a sign honouring separatist Jacques Parizeau.   

Mayor Denis Coderre and Montreal City Council voted in favour of the change 50 to 2. The change was fait accompli  without apprising the Legion, the Vimy Foundation, or any other veteran organization. 

When the Legion and the Vimy foundation heard of the change, they were very upset, and to appease them, Coderre promised a more profound Vimy Monument somewhere in downtown Montreal: in fact, another Vimy Park. 

Norman Shelton of the Legion’s Quebec Command, told the National Post the Legion would be satisfied with a new Montreal park containing a proper dedication to those who fought at Vimy Ridge.  The Post said that he faulted the city for not giving any thought to the impact of the change, which he said was felt right across Canada.

“It was just incredible. It never stopped,” he (Shelton) said of the response. “My branches were sending me emails like you wouldn’t believe.”

On June 16, Vimy Foundation Chair, Christopher Sweeney, said the following in the Foundation’s  website http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-park/      

 “The Vimy Foundation strongly urges the City of Montreal...to reverse its decision to remove the name ‘Vimy’ from Vimy Park... we are astonished that Montreal would...erase the name of Vimy from the Park! A great historic city like Montreal should contribute to our nation’s collective memory and not its propensity for historical amnesia”.

On Aug 22, on the same page of the website, Sweeney said...

The Vimy Foundation is encouraged by the statement made by Mayor Coderre that a new Vimy Park will be established in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood......... Due diligence must be taken to ensure that the future Vimy Park be located in a space that is appropriate and does not replace another park with a historic name nor be reduced to a small corner of an existing park.

Please read Sweeney’s entire text on the website  http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-park/ .

Although Coderre promised a new Vimy park, he lied to silence critics.  One week before opening Parizeau Park, he merely renamed a portion of NDG Park, Vimy Place, and invited an Armed Forces officer, a Legion member, and Sweeney to attend.

With them as witnesses, he made the announcement standing in front of the existing impressive monument at NDG Park, proclaiming it to be a new site: one more site dedicated to honour the heroes of Vimy Ridge: an addition! 

However, in that ceremony, Coderre said nothing about the subtraction: that in a couple of days, City workers would be tearing down the Vimy sign at 83 year old Vimy Park, and throwing it onto a City yard truck the way they would a dead skunk.

Vimy Place is Coderre’s red herring, to which Sweeney and the Legion dutifully succumbed: thoughtlessly turning off track to follow the stench laid down by Coderre leading to NDG Park, then stood beside him, effectively thanking him for setting the trap.

On June 16, on the aforementioned webpage, Sweeney said...

“We do not dispute the importance of Mr Parizeau to Montreal, Quebec and even Canada...."

How dare he say “even Canada?”

I asked the presidents of two local Legions to ask their members to email their MP telling him that they want him to petition the PM to use whatever influence he can to get the park renamed Parc de Vimy. 

I asked the Presidents to advise all other Ontario branches to do the same, and to ask Dominion Command to announce that it opposes the name change and wants the park renamed after Vimy, and that Legion ask the Foundation to join them. 

Whereas having the name changed by Remembrance Day may not be achievable, I availed the Legion details of a short ceremony, whereby a Legion party could attend Parizeau Park at 11 a.m. on November 11, and bring with them a portable replica of the Parc de Vimy sign, so that should the park be renamed Vimy before Remembrance Day 2017, the above event will confirm that no Remembrance Day passed without a Park de Vimy sign on the grounds of the park.

The Legion and the Vimy Foundation must commit treason against their newfound allies, Coderre and the Outremont Historical Society, and make their way back to the trenches of the Vimy fallen, and take up the quarrel with the foe, so that on the upcoming Remembrance Day, the sleep of the glorious fallen will not be disturbed, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

The Legion and the Vimy Foundation must pick up the torch, and hold it high, then scream out the command to charge, and continue to shout it out in quick-march towards the objective, with bayonets fixed, until the Vimy Park sign is again raised at Vimy Park.

The Ridge must be retaken before its 100th anniversary.  Much pomp and circumstance is planned for next April’s 100th anniversary of Vimy, overseas.  However, if by April 9, 2017, the Ridge on Canadian soil has not been retaken, all that overseas grandiose gala will become a Cinderella slipper: a passing fancy, when one drives through Outremont and the sign Parc Jacques Parizeau comes into view.

Whereas The Canadian Vimy Memorial in France was opened in 1936, Vimy Park was opened in 1933.

Vimy Park, that for 83 years, three years older than the Vimy Memorial, named to honour brave fallen who fell to proscribe evils such as racism, was renamed to honour a racist, Jacques Parizeau.  No word in the dictionary is adequate to describe the level of disgust for that act.   

Please email your MP asking that he/she petition the PM to make a public stance and apply pressure to rename Parizeau Park Vimy Park.  Your MP email address is on the below website. 

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members


Vimy Park needs to be saved

Read More: Opinion, Guest Blogs, Quinte

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