It was a bizarre week in Canadian political circles as communism reared its ugly head.
As a Canadian journalist left his job to move to Cuba, a right wing pundit accused him of supporting the Cuban Communist government, though in fact he was moving for his wife’s new job with a Canadian aid organization. As the strange conversation continued, a federal minister decided to get involved and imply that moving to a communist country was something to be noted. (Though didn’t respond to the many who asked why Canada is working so closely with China, and if this rule applies to all Canadians who work for Canadian organizations in communist countries).
Tony Clement, meanwhile, had just cut the ribbon at the opening of the Norman Bethune Visitors’ Center in Gravenhurst, Ontario. Bethune was a Canadian physician who pushed for public health care, and who also happened to be a proud communist and Mao sympathizer. Clement said “I don’t think we’re here to promote the communist principle. The thing about Dr. Bethune is that people see different things about him depending on their perspective. I think we as Conservatives can be comfortable that there’s a message here broader than just his communism, that goes to his humanism and entrepreneurship.”
The fact remains that the new visitors’ center, next to Bethune’s birthplace, will welcome thousands of Chinese tourists who travel to Gravenhurst to pay tribute to Bethune – perhaps part of the reason it was opened as the Harper government continues trying to expand trade with China.
Now right-wing pundits and a member of Clement’s own caucus are questioning the decision to honor Bethune at all.
Rob Anders, the member of parliament for Calgary West, says his government should not have funded the visitors’ center, and says that his own caucus is trying to get him to stop talking about it.
The lines from the Harper government, meanwhile, indicate that the visitors’ center was built to cash in on tourism dollars.
Photo Credit: watchsmart