I am writing to complain about the editorial Museum complaint parochial (March 24).
This editorial contains misleading and inaccurate statements intended to expose the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) to public ridicule, so as to undermine our legitimate calls for a review of the governance and proposed content of a taxpayer-funded national institution, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
The editorial says, "The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been demanding that if the Holocaust gets favoured treatment in the museum, then it wants a special gallery for the Holodomor." We have never made any such request. We have called for all 12 of the 12 museum galleries to be inclusive, comparative and thematic.
As for the dismissive reference to the term "hierarchy of genocides" (the basis for our principled objection to the ordering of exhibits/galleries at the museum) we are only reflecting the opinion of Gail Asper and Moe Levy, who in the pages of the Free Press (Jan. 9, 2004) wrote that they would never countenance "a hierarchy of suffering" in this museum.
Your gratuitous remarks about the Nanos Research poll question and the credibility of that company I will leave to their representatives to address. But allow us to ask how you know we paid a "small fee" for our question to be added to a national survey.
The tone of this paragraph seems intended to dismiss the results of the survey by besmirching the professionalism of Nanos Research while mocking our efforts to determine what the public wants in a national museum that taxpayers are being called upon to sustain, in perpetuity.
You have reported that 60.3 per cent of Canadians, men and women of all ages, from all regions and of all political persuasions, rejected (in the Nanos poll) the notion of a gallery being set aside permanently to cover just one genocide. Yet the editorial questions why we did not specifically reference the Holocaust as such a gallery's subject.
The reason we did not was simply because, as stated above, the association's position has always been, and remains, that no one community's suffering, however great, should be elevated above all others in a national museum funded by all taxpayers, which includes the Holodomor.
There are other errors of fact in the editorial. For a newspaper that was distinguished with an award from the Winnipeg-based Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko for its coverage of the Holodomor I am surprised, for example, that you get the Holodomor's dates wrong (it was 1932-33 not 1931-32).
Finally, on the issue of surveys, allow me to introduce the results of a poll conducted by the Ministerial Advisory Committee for the CMHR. The former, chaired by Arni Thorsteinson, tabled its report with Josee Verner, then minister of Canadian Heritage, on March 31, 2008. Table 7 of that document details how Canadians rank-ordered the subjects they wanted addressed in the museum, as follows:
Aboriginal (First Nations), 16.1 per cent; Genocides, 14.8 per cent; Women 14.7 per cent; Internments, 12.5 per cent; War and Conflicts, 8.7 per cent; Holocaust, 7 per cent; Children, 5.9 per cent; Sexual Orientation, 4.9 per cent; Ethnic Minorities, 3.8 per cent; Slavery, 2.9 per cent; Immigration, 2.6 per cent; Charter of Rights, 2.3 per cent; Disabilities, 2 per cent; Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1.8 per cent.
You will note the Holocaust ranks sixth in this list.
The association had nothing to do with this survey and yet the above-cited results demonstrate what the Canadian public believes are issues the museum should focus on: Aboriginal stories, all genocides, the War Measures Act and the several incidents of internment operations that have occurred in Canadian history, women's rights and themes arising out of war and conflict — those are all of more interest than the particular story of Jewish suffering in the Second World War, the Shoah.
The association has stated publicly, more than once, that in a genocide gallery at the museum the Shoah (Holocaust) must be included, treated alongside other crimes against humanity like the Holodomor, the Rwandan genocide, the Armenian genocide, the "killing fields" of Cambodia, "ethnic cleansing" and the Maoist terror, which took the lives of some 40 million Chinese in the politically engineered famine of 1958-1962.
Such a thematic, comparative and inclusive gallery would have both pedagogical and commemorative value. There's nothing "uninformed" about that.
This editorial is itself an example of the uninformed defaming of a group of Canadians who have done nothing more than legitimately question what's going on at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Lubomyr Luciuk is director of
research for the Ukrainian Canadian
Civil Liberties Association.