OTTAWA — The Conservatives say they would get rid of admission fees at all of Canada’s national museums.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer made the announcement on an otherwise quiet day, as the party leaders prepare for the English-language debate later on Monday.
Scheer says scrapping those fees will make it easier for families to learn about Canada’s history and make school trips and family vacations more affordable. The Tory leader adds that he believes Canada’s historical figures should be honoured and remembered, even if they have a controversial past.
“I believe Canada’s history should always be celebrated,” Scheer said Monday morning in Ottawa. “Now, is it perfect? Of course not, but we must never allow political correctness to erase what made us who we are,” he continued.
“The very act of walking into a museum is a reminder that before us came generations of Canadians who shaped this land into what it is today: a single, united country with shared experiences, of trial and triumph, and shared responsibilities towards one another,” said Scheer.
“We can and we should celebrate the giants of our history,” he continued, before naming Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, who was a Conservative, as well as Liberal prime ministers William Lyon Mackenzie King and Sir Wilfrid Laurier as examples.
“We can look to the past, acknowledge and learn from mistakes and celebrate achievements at the same time,” the Conservative leader added. “If we look back on our history and our leaders and see only the blemishes, we miss out on a beautiful story of a country that has progressed into one of the safest, freest and most prosperous in the world.”
In the last few years, statues and other memorials dedicated to controversial figures from Canadian history have been subjected to greater scrutiny — and even removal — due to greater awareness of and sensitivity to the role they played in causing harm to First Nations, Metis and Inuit.
The nine national museums include the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, as well as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
Scheer says he would also make the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina a national museum, and also make its admission free.
The announcement also included a promise to designate the grave sites of all past prime ministers, as well as former governors general, as national historic sites.
“Because despite those who wish to sweep some of these leaders under the rug, they have left their mark not only on our country, but on the entire world, and they are worthy of honour and respect,” Scheer said.
The parliamentary budget office estimates that would cost the government about $21 million a year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2019.
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