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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/12/2012 (1661 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Challenges cause changes

Please allow me to comment on your recent stories about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Atrocities gallery 'too much' (Nov. 30) and Canadian Museum for Human Rights staff exodus tied to content change (Dec. 1).

First, it is not correct to describe our staff turnover rate as "one-third of employees have left," which implies a sudden mass exodus. This is not the case. Over the past four years, a remarkable group of women and men have contributed to this project. But, yes, there were changes. Some people left, some were replaced and some positions changed or were eliminated, reflecting the evolution of our needs.

Second, if our turnover rate is deemed high, it is partly due to the challenging nature of our work, subject matter and public expectations. But it is not correct to suggest that the issue boils down to academics' ideas on museum content conflicting with that of museum-goers. Rather, in our discussions with your reporter about the various reasons for staff departures, we were trying to acknowledge that some staff -- including (but not limited to) our researchers -- might have felt frustrated if their personal commitments in approach or ideology did not fully align with the museum's inaugural exhibition plans.

The CMHR's academically sound approach to its content has not changed, but evolved, guided by lengthy consultation with the public, human-rights advisers and our own expert staff. Striking a balance between the lessons of historical human-rights violations and positive stories that inspire hope and action has always been our goal. Canada's human-rights journey remains an important part of museum content, including both positive stories and recognition of our own human-rights challenges.

Finally, I must clarify that content related to the Cambodian genocide of the late 1970s will, in fact, be included in the museum's inaugural content. While we cannot possibly include all the most powerful human-rights stories of the world -- at least not at once -- this particular piece of history is planned for inclusion in a gallery that will be devoted to breaking the silence on human-rights violations.


Canadian Museum for Human Rights



Does anyone actually expect the human-rights museum to be a joyful experience? Is the self-aggrandizing posturing over, now that we don't like what we see?

It's bad enough this project has been so expensive. Now we're going to scale back the museum's authenticity to avoid making a few people uncomfortable?




A more positive theme would be to focus on how various citizens attained their human rights -- the right to worship one's own religion; easy access for all; passive resistance; flower power; apartheid; women's rights; children's rights; civil rights movement; and leaders such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Hannah Taylor. Now that would be a museum I would like to visit.




Regarding the museum's intent to tell more "positive Canadian stories," such as "the nation's record as a safe haven for immigrants," surely we wouldn't forget to tell about the MS St. Louis, the ship carrying Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany which the Canadian government turned away from this "safe haven" in 1939? Or would we?




The genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979 was far from the largest Asian genocide of the 20th century. That title must be reserved for the Great Famine in China from 1958 to 1961.

During that time, and due to circumstances very similar to the Holodomor in Ukraine, an estimated 36 million to 45 million Chinese died of starvation or from summary execution. In the last year, two major accounts of the Great Famine have appeared, one produced by Frank Dikotter of the University of Hong Kong, the other by a Chinese historian, Yang Jisheng, and recently translated into English.

The Great Famine resulted primarily from the Chinese Communist Party's misguided industrialization project known as the Great Leap Forward. During that time, despite a number of natural disasters, the government continued to sell grain to finance the industrialization. It was the greatest disaster in Chinese history and possibly in world history.



Thorium more efficient

Re: Shutting nuclear plants madness (Nov. 30). Using thorium, instead of uranium, for nuclear power plants enhances this point. It was well tested in the '50s and '60s, but it lost out to uranium because nuclear weapons were much more the focus.

Thorium is much more efficient, far less dangerous and more abundant. Its waste lasts a few hundred years and cannot be used for nuclear weapons.



Poverty rates increase

In your Nov. 30 story Manitoba's child poverty rate an appalling 20 per cent, you quote Kerri Irvin-Ross, cabinet minister responsible for the All Aboard strategy, as saying, "Through the measurements we have, we can demonstrate that there has been a decrease (in child poverty in Manitoba)." Unfortunately, this is not the case.

In Incomes in Canada, 2010, Statistics Canada reports that 8.3 per cent of Manitoba children were living below the market measure in 2008, before the 2009 introduction of the All Aboard strategy. In 2009 it was 11.4 per cent, and in 2010 (the last year for which data are available), it was 10.9 per cent. This is an increase of 31.3 per cent between 2008 and 2010. Meanwhile, in Canada as a whole the rate went down from 10.3 per cent in 2008 to 10.0 per cent in 2010, a decrease of 2.9 per cent.


Campaign 2000 chairman


Upping Lohan ante

Please, please stop taking up valuable column inches with stories about Lindsay Lohan's latest arrest. It's simply not a story when she gets arrested.

How about you institute a new editorial policy? No Lohan stories unless she either kills someone -- other than herself -- or actually stars in a decent movie?



Hockey hell freezes over

Who would have thought it? It's December and the Toronto Maple Leafs are still undefeated.




Here's an idea. Take the difference between what the league wants and what the players want, and give it to a charity.

Neither group of spoiled millionaires wins, but a group of people who actually need help will get it.




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