Prime minister backs down from renaming mountain

Jean Chrtien appears to be retreating from his proposal to rename Canada's highest mountain in honour of Pierre Trudeau who died in late September. Critics say it's an apparent attempt to avoid any controversy before a fall election.

Chrtien had announced that Mount Logan would soon be known as Mount Trudeau, but many people opposed that idea, including Alberta Premier Ralph Klein.

When Yukon New Democrat MP Louise Hardy and others in the House of Commons demanded again on Monday that the name change be revoked, they received a surprise response.

Heritage Minister Sheila Copps told the House a decision to change the mountain's name has not been made.

"We have to make sure that in respecting Mr. Trudeau's memory, we do not cause any difficulty for the history of Mount Logan," Copps said Monday.

She added that Chrtien wants to make sure the name change "does not cause controversy."

Mount Logan is North America's second-highest peak. Located near the Yukon-Alaska border, it's named after Sir William Logan, a geologist and surveyor who mapped Canada's geological structures and many of its uncharted areas.

Logan's fans and many western Canadians want the Logan name to stay on the mountain.

Critics say the Liberals may be trying to undo a decision that could haunt the party during an election campaign, especially in Western Canada.

"It sounds to me like they're trying to give themselves some skating room right now," Canadian Alliance MP Chuck Strahl said Monday.

"I think it would be in the national interest and in the interest of respect for the late prime minister Trudeau if the government found some way to step away from this," Conservative leader Joe Clark said.

It's expected the request to rename Mount Logan will be re-examined and may even be withdrawn.