Communism monument a long way off

Monument to Victims of Communism in Prague, Czech Republic.

All this talk about commies in the Parliamentary Press Gallery reminds of the proposed Monument to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism, which was slated for construction in Ottawa next year.

After some hand-wringing about the name, the National Capital Commission last year agreed to give space in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories across from the National Library and Archives Building on Wellington Street. (Critics say the “totalitarian” is redundant.)

The project has also received enthusiastic support from the Harper government. It was mentioned in last year’s Speech form the Throne and noted anti-Communist Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship and immigration, last summer issued a congratulatory statement that notably omitted the word “totalitarian.’

While the government may be continue to rail against the commie scourge, Canadians do not appear moved enough to fork over cash to the project.

Documents filed with the Canada Revenue Agency show the charity behind the project is light years from achieving its fund-raising goal for the project of $1.5 million.

The 2010 filing by Tribute to Liberty РA Memorial to Victims of Totalitarian Communism Inc. shows the charity raised a paltry $45,690, and spent the bulk of that on operational and administrative costs totalling $34,693. (Of that, more than $28,000 went to compensation for people who worked for the charity).

By the end of 2010 year, the monument charity had only $15,849 in the bank.

The NCC was supposed to hold a design competition for the monument this spring, but first requires two-thirds of the money for the construction costs — about $650,000 says Tribute to Liberty project coordinator Carolyn Foster.

Foster said the start date for the design competition all depends on fund-raising. She said she didn’t have an exact figure of the amount raised so far.

“It’s very slow, unfortunately,” she said. “It’s a difficult project for a lot of the public to understand. It’s not like raising money for a new wing of hospital.”

She said, as a small organization, they cannot afford a big advertising campaign to help raise money.

At the current rate of fund-raising and spending, it would take decades to reach the goal of erecting the monument. But Foster said she expects the donations to ramp up.

“We’re laying a lot of the groundwork for fund-raising. It’s hard to say exactly when we’ll get to that point. It could happen more quickly.”

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