There are many patriotic reasons to reject the grotesque Mother Canada monument being proposed for a rocky outcrop along the shores of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The most persuasive is that this towering Colossus of Wars, meant to memorialize Canada's military dead through the image of a shrouded, beckoning female figure, should never be imposed on a national park. End of the story – except that the official guardians, Parks Canada, appear more interested in exploiting a beautiful seaside site than protecting its natural integrity. Shame on them.
Beyond that, the memorial is hugely redundant. Canada already has hundreds of monuments that honour its war dead in a spirit appropriate to the sacrifice and suffering of global conflict.
Indeed, you don't have to go all that far along the beautiful Cabot Trail in Cape Breton to find an existing memorial that displays a reverent power of thoughtful regret the bombastic Mother Canada will never achieve. At a pretty vista on the top of French Mountain sits a modest and moving plaque inscribed with these haunting words: "They will never know the beauty of this place, see the seasons change, enjoy nature's chorus…."
For the author of those tender phrases, the natural heritage of Canada was both a sufficient tribute and an incomparable memorial to the fallen. But now it's not nearly enough – we have to improve on it with the deluded gigantism of a 10-storey statue that makes the pink granite shoreline pale into insignificance.
And that brings us to the third, conclusive reason why Mother Canada shouldn't exist – it's offensively tasteless at the aesthetic level. The bigger-is-better approach to art is best left to Stalinist tyrants, theme-park entrepreneurs and insecure municipalities hoping to waylay bored drive-by tourists. In a hubristic act of arrogant unoriginality, Mother Canada is merely an oversized knock-off of the mournful Canada Bereft statue created for the 1936 Vimy Memorial – as if, 80 years later, far from the bloody battlegrounds of the Great War, in a very different Canada, the only artistic adjustment required was to scale up, way up.
A brutal megalith doesn't prompt individual introspection – it mocks it. And by defiling a quiet beauty spot with its grandiose bulk, Mother Canada will only diminish the heritage it claims to honour.