Black days over for Canadian war memorial in England
Veterans Affairs agrees to take over rundown monument
The federal government has agreed to take over a rundown Canadian war memorial in England, weeksafter both former media baron Conrad Black and the Ontario governmenttried toshame Ottawa into action.
The Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday it will pay about $250,000 to purchase the memorial, then spendabout $100,000 a year for management and maintenance costs.
Titled Canada Memorial,the granite and bronze monument in central London is dedicated to Canadians who fought alongside the British troops in both world wars. But it has falleninto disrepair recently following the withdrawal of support from benefactorBlack.
Federal funding will come from a commemorative program at Veterans Affairs. The government said the money will ensure that a memorial "significant for Canadians" will remain for future generations to visit.
In mid-August, Black called it "scandalous" that Ottawa had been "fumbling around" on the issue for a year.
Days later, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty added to the chorus by offering to pay$25,000of the memorial's maintenance costs if Ottawa didn't step up with funding. But he saidOttawa should ultimately foot the bill.
Designed by the late Montreal sculptor Pierre Granche, the memorial was unveiled in Green Park 13 years ago by the Queen.
Itwas privately funded in a project spearheaded by Conrad Black, with him and his newspaper at the time, the Daily Telegraph, paying for maintenance costs until 2004. The funding ended as the former head of the Hollinger newspaper empire was accused of siphoning millions of dollars from thecompany.
In July, Black was convicted of obstruction of justice and three counts of fraud. A fund had been created by Black to maintain the memorial, but dried up during his legal battles.