42767Ontario Liberals balk at 1812 memorial
- Sep 25, 2010From an article in today's paper.
Liberals balk at 1812 memorial
By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD
Posted 2 hours ago
Mention the War of 1812 and I had to scratch around in my brain to remem-ber my high school history class.
I went to school in the U.K., so that era was generally taught through the prism of the Napoleonic Wars.
The most important feature of the War of 1812 that I could recall was that its biggest battle -- New Orleans -- was actually fought after the peace treaty had been signed in Ghent in 1814.
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MPP Paul Miller brought the war to the floor of the Legislature this week.
The Battle of Stoney Creek was fought June 6, 1813. Casualty reports suggest 23 British sol-diers were killed and 17 Americans died.
While the British lost more men, the battle is considered to have been a victory that saved Canada from becoming part of the U.S.
The Americans were pushed back to the Niagara River -- and were never able to make further inroads in Canada.
In 1998 and 1999, an archeological res-toration project at Battlefield Park revealed military artefacts and almost 800 human bone fragments.
As the soil erodes, those human remains have moved closer to the surface.
It was also discovered that the battlefield and burial site actually extended further -- into private property. When that land went up for sale, Hamilton council bought it, with the help of private money.
Miller wants the remains of those long-dead soldiers -- believed to be British, American and first nations -- to be re-interred in a more dignified and appropriate way.
When he raised the issue in the Legislature in May, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised "to look into it."
In June, Miller wrote to Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan requesting $200,000 for a cemetery and memorial.
Chan's response appears confused. He said there's no money to purchase the land -- when the land has already been purchased. It's the cemetery that's at issue.
When Miller raised the issue in the House on Wednesday, Chan talked about how the gov-ernment has allocated money to celebrate the bicentennial of the war in 2012.
"I would encourage the city of Hamilton to engage the western corridor bicentennial alli-ance to come up with a proposal so that we can, come 2012, celebrate 1812 in Stoney Creek."
Miller says Stoney Creek will have to compete with other bicentennial projects for what would amount to about $50,000 -- which wouldn't even pay for the machinery they'd need for the re-interment.
"This bogus argument that he used to deny the funding is absolutely atrocious," Miller said.
He's quite right. This is disgusting.
The names and faces of those who died in that historic battle may be long forgotten, but it's shameful for this government to allow their sacrifice to die with them.
A civilized country honours its war dead.
A civilized country gives a decent final rest-ing place to enemy combatants who die on its soil -- especially when those old foes are now our friends.
It's shocking they won't do so.
This is the government that gave $1 million to a cricket club, yet they don't have enough money to give a decent burial to soldiers who died in one of the pivotal nation-building battles of this country.
Chan needs to rethink his answer and make a new overture to the people of Stoney Creek.
Hey, he could call it the 1812 overture.
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