Nova Scotia

Peter Mansbridge drops support for Mother Canada project

Three prominent Canadian journalists are no longer listed as honorary patrons of controversial project.

CTV's Lisa LaFlamme and Lloyd Robertson also remove names from honorary patron list

The Never Forgotten Memorial Foundation wants to build a statue called Mother Canada in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. (Never Forgotten Memorial Foundation)

Three prominent Canadian journalists are no longer listed as supporters of the foundation trying to build Mother Canada, the controversial 24-metre high statue planned for Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The names of CBC's Peter Mansbridge and CTV's Lisa LaFlamme and Lloyd Robertson have recently been removed from the online list of honorary patrons.

Mansbridge, CBC's chief correspondent and anchor of The National, says he withdrew his name last week.

"I decided you can't cover a controversy by being in one," he said in an email. "It's become a widespread controversy now."

A CTV spokesperson confirmed LaFlamme and Robertson are no longer honorary patrons of the project.

The Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation wants to build a $25-million memorial to Canada's war dead on a stretch of the trail between Ingonish and Neils Harbour. The memorial centrepiece is a mournful statue of a woman, her arms outstretched towards Europe.

Detractors have called it everything from "vulgar and ostentatious" to "inappropriate" and counter to the "ecological integrity" of the park.

Supporters maintain it's a fitting memorial that would boost tourism in northern Cape Breton.

The list of honorary patrons still includes Canadian business heavy weights, celebrated artists and politicians. Rex Murphy, the host of CBC's Cross Country Checkup, is still listed as a supporter.

Meg Stokes, a spokesperson for the foundation, said they appreciated the journalists' support.

"We also recognize that one can't be involved in a project and be called to report on it at the same time. We respect that," she said.

Parks Canada is reviewing more than 6,000 comments from the public as it prepares an environmental assessment of the project.

The Never Forgotten War Memorial wouldn't say how much money it's raised so far.

"As soon as the environmental assessment and First Nations reviews have been completed, we will be working to convert funding commitments into donations," Stokes wrote in an email.


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