Veterans and legionnaires working to build and improve community cenotaphs will be disappointed if they go to the Veterans Affairs website looking for help. “Thank you for your interest in the Community War Memorial Program. We are no longer accepting new applications,” it says.
That is right: A program that has helped build at least 99 veterans’ monuments in communities across Canada is on the chopping block.
Fast-growing younger communities such as Riverside South and Findlay Creek may eventually need assistance to construct cenotaphs where school children and veterans can go to honour those who served. Just a few years ago, the Ottawa community of Metcalfe relied on matching funds to add the names of previously omitted First World War soldiers to the village cenotaph. However, with the cancellation of this fund, similar projects will no longer have access to matching federal money.
In a recent review of the program now being cut, the Veterans Affairs Department found it “is effective, provides good value for money, and is administratively efficient and economical.” It also found that the program came $2 million under budget over five years and that for every dollar in taxpayer money committed, communities raised another $2.80.
The government says it wants to create jobs through infrastructure. Monuments are infrastructure. In fact, the Veterans Affairs Department report on the program said building these monuments generated 115 jobs, and “created local economic activity in many small communities.”
So why end the program? Apparently, the Liberal government does not like military symbols, such as cenotaphs.
The article claims the same reasoning may lead the government to cancel a planned monument to the 40,000 men and women who served and the 158 soldiers who died fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, Canada’s longest ever military mission – a mission the previous Liberal government launched.
That is disgraceful. These monuments are symbols of the thousands who gave all so that we could enjoy the blessings of freedom.
They paid the ultimate price – and the cenotaph fund was a tiny price to pay in return. In the end, it only cost $600,000 per year, which is not even a rounding error given the government’s current spending spree.
In fact, the government of Canada spends, on average, about $600,000 a minute, every minute of every day. Maybe the people who made this terrible decision should take a minute (or better yet a moment of silence) to rethink this decision. Lest they forget.
Pierre Poilievre is MP for Carleton and Official Opposition critic for the Treasury Board.