Nova Scotia

Mother Canada statue's future under Liberal government review

The future of Mother Canada and the Never Forgotten War Memorial proposed for the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is still up in the air, despite published reports of its demise, a Nova Scotia Liberal MP says.

Liberals want assurances enough private money is in place to cover cost of development

The Mother Canada statue proposed for Green Cove in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is under review, a local MP says. (Rayment & Collins)

The future of Mother Canada and the Never Forgotten War Memorial proposed for the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is still up in the air, despite published reports of its demise, a Nova Scotia Liberal MP says.

Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has promised to review the controversial project, and that's where the file stood as late as Thursday.

"Right now, nobody from our government is stating that this project is not happening or it's stopped," said Eyking.

"There's no doubt we're going to review it and see if all criteria is met, but that's where we're at right now, and that's what she told me yesterday, and she's the minister of environment."

Late last month, McKenna wrote to the Friends of Green Cove, a group opposed to the memorial. The group posted her letter on its website.

It reads, in part, "Please be assured that your concerns and comments have been taken into consideration, and I will take the necessary time to review the project to date, including the environmental assessment and public consultation process. I appreciate your interest in the conservation of Canada's national heritage."

Eyking repeated what the Liberals have said from the start: they will not commit any further government funding for the project.

A private foundation plans to raise about $25 million to build the memorial, including a 24-metre tall statue called Mother Canada.

Under former prime minister Stephen Harper's government, Parks Canada gave the foundation a grant of $100,000.

Eyking said that in addition to a review of the approval process, the Liberals want assurances that enough private money is in place to cover the cost of the development. He said that review will likely take a couple of months.

Moving forward

Meg Stokes of the Never Forgotten Memorial Foundation said in response to a query from CBC that it is "continuing to move forward with preparations.… We have received the initial approvals for use of the lands at Green Cove and are currently working with Parks Canada on the required environmental assessment. 

"We remain committed to working with Parks Canada and the Mi'kmaq on the approvals so that we can begin to raise the private funds required for the construction and maintenance of the memorial."

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