FIRST READING: The curious lack of outrage at another 'desecration' of the Terry Fox statue

Freedom Convoy sparked nation-wide outrage for politicizing Terry Fox. Protesters calling for the destruction of Israel did not

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Not long after a cross-section of Canadian politicians and media figures decried the “desecration” of Ottawa’s Terry Fox statue after it was hung with Freedom Convoy paraphernalia, those same quarters have remained oddly silent after people attending an Oct. 29 rally calling for Israel’s destruction did exactly the same thing.

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In January 2022 – not long after hundreds of Freedom Convoy protesters arrived in downtown Ottawa – it quickly became a point of national controversy that demonstrators had draped the city’s Terry Fox statue with anti-mandate paraphernalia.

Images showed the bronze statue with a Team Canada ball cap, a sign reading “mandate freedom,” and an upside-down Canadian flag – a symbol of the Freedom Convoy.

Terry Fox statue
A statue of Terry Fox pictured during the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests and blockades in Ottawa. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The images prompted no less than 10 separate condemnations in the House of Commons or in Parliamentary committees – and inspired statements from Ottawa’s then-mayor Jim Watson and Brad West, the mayor of Terry Fox’s hometown of Port Coquitlam, B.C.

“Whatever your cause, you don’t get to appropriate his legacy and you don’t touch his statue. Ever,” West wrote at the time.

This week, he was one of the only politicians to strike the same tone in the wake of the statue being draped in Palestinian symbols.

“This is wrong. In fact, garbage. Here’s a simple thought: leave Terry Fox’s statue (& veterans memorials alone),” wrote West in a Nov. 2 post to X.com.

On Oct. 29, Parliament Hill and surrounding areas saw one of Canada’s largest pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Although framed as rally for a “ceasefire,” the event featured no shortage of open calls for Israeli destruction, most notably through repeated chants of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

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Photos taken by demonstrators show the Terry Fox statue draped in a keffiyeh – a symbol of Palestinian “resistance.” Three children are also pictured hanging from the statue holding Palestinian flags and flashing “v for victory” signs with their fingers.

The photo was posted online by the Palestinian Youth Movement, a perennial organizer of anti-Israel protests in Canadian cities, including following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacres against Israeli civilians.

The caption accompanying the image of the Terry Fox statue, in fact, framed Israel as an illegitimate “settler” state guilty of genocide. “This aggression is a continuation of the settler-colonial violence the Zionist state inflicted on Palestinians for the last 75 years,” it read.

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The PYM was instrumental in organizing the first wave of Canadian public celebrations within hours of the first details of the massacres coming to light.

“Last night, the resistance in Gaza led a heroic attack against the occupation…. Victory is ours,” read the Palestinian Youth Movement post advertising Ottawa’s first post-massacre rally on Oct. 8.

It was that same rally, convened at the city’s Human Rights Monument, that would feature a speaker explicitly pledging fealty to Hamas, and promising to “be the nightmare here” until Israel was destroyed.

This is not the first time that “pro-Palestine” demonstrators have vandalized a Canadian memorial at one of their rallies.

In the wake of an Oct. 20 at Queen’s Park in Toronto, a 100-year-old war memorial in the park had the word “Palestine” scrawled on it.

The monument is the 48th Highlanders Regimental Memorial, built in 1923, and it contains inscriptions of all the battles and combat theatres in which the unit has participated. Just above the most recent inscription of “Afghanistan” was the word “Palestine” written in a similar script.

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A photograph of the desecrated monument was forwarded to the National Post by a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who said they wished to remain anonymous for security and professional purposes.

The monument had spent hours at the centre of a General Strike for Gaza that had been organized outside the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by the Palestinian Youth Movement.

Desecrated memorial
The 48th Highlanders Regimental Memorial in Toronto’s Queen’s Park, pictured after an Oct. 20th General Strike for Gaza. Photo by Handout

IN OTHER NEWS

It’s that time of year again to wear a poppy (for which the National Post has compiled this helpful guide on how to wear one without it falling off). In Saskatchewan, they greeted the coming of Remembrance Day with a new law making it illegal for provincially regulated employers to prohibit the wearing of poppies – provided it’s not a safety risk. What’s less clear about the legislation is who it is actually targeting. Only a handful of Canadian employers have ever attempted to restrict the workplace wearing of a poppy, and the backlash was so swift and overwhelming that they immediately regretted it.

It’s a frequent theme of this newsletter that Canada is one of the most pro-immigration countries on earth. It’s also a frequent theme of this newsletter that – amid Ottawa orchestrating the most dramatic spike in immigration in the history of Confederation – Canadians are suddenly finding themselves pondering whether it’s all a bit much. A September Nanos poll, for one, found that 53 per cent of Canadians believed that the government was bringing in too many newcomers – while only eight per cent backed the status quo plan of bringing in even more.

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Mary Moreau
Canada’s getting a new Supreme Court justice, Mary Moreau, to replace Russell Brown, the one who resigned under murky circumstances in June. Judicial appointments, like Senate appointments, are one of those many Canadian things where the prime minister has sole, unilateral discretion and can basically do whatever he wants. This week, Conservative MPs complained that maybe the appointment of one of the most powerful people in the country should be preceded by a bit more than a rushed and non-binding Q+A session with MPs. Those Conservatives will probably change their tune once their own guy is picking judges, but given how activist the Supreme Court has gotten in recent years, it is notable how little oversight this all gets. Photo by Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

And thus has the Trudeau government suddenly announced that they’re bringing down immigration targets – a bit. Ottawa is still going to hike new arrivals to 500,000 per year by 2025, but after that they’re planning to plateau the number. It isn’t the one million newcomers that Canada brought in last year, but it’s still one of the highest-ever immigration intakes for a country that has historically been pretty bullish on immigration. In 2014, the last full year of the Harper government, it was frequently reported that Conservatives had dialled up immigration to its highest rate in more than 100 years. The total number of immigrants brought to Canada that year was 260,000.

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