TORONTO (JTA) — Canada’s passage of a bill calling for a national Holocaust monument in the capital has spurred a debate over who should pay for it.
The proposal for a memorial in Ottawa sailed through the House of Commons last week with the support of every member, but it did not come with any money attached.
The bill’s sponsor, Tim Uppal of the Conservative Party, said the government has only promised to donate the land. The Alberta lawmaker told the National Post newspaper that funds to design and build the monument would have to come from private donations.
That has raised the ire of Toronto-area Liberal lawmaker Joe Volpe, considered a longtime friend of the Jewish community, who told the Post that the Conservative-led government "lied to everybody."
"They wanted a specific group of people to pay for the monument, and that specific group of people were members of the Jewish community," Volpe said.
He pointed out that none of the other 16 national monuments in the capital region were privately funded.
Volpe also is at odds with the Canadian Jewish Congress, which backs private funding for the memorial.
"I was very upset with the Canadian Jewish Congress for even associating itself with [the monument]," Volpe said.
Bernie Farber, Canadian Jewish Congress CEO, told the Post that Holocaust survivors "wanted to see this in their lifetime. Knowing how the wheels of government move at glacial speed … we were prepared to say we will do what has to be done."
Farber pointed out that that bill clearly states that fundraising for the monument will be private.