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Storm clouds gather over the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

First an earthquake. Then a tsunami.

Japan? No.

We're talking about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the storms it's facing just ahead.

March is shaping up to be a very, very bad month for the CMHR.

Treasury Board President Stockwell Day has said the government intends to chop expenditures by $10.4 billion over the next 12 months to fight the national deficit. Late last week in Ottawa he spelled out chapter and verse where some of the savings will come.

The CMHR is getting a million dollar haircut.

The Toronto Star, which appears to be the only source to report the government's plans in detail, said "Almost every agency funded by Heritage Canada will lose money but the deepest cuts will come at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the National Library and the Office of the Status of Women. Across the board, spending will fall by 4.5 per cent."

In its annual report last year the CMHR declared: "In 2011-2012, the Corporation will require $21.7 million to fund its operations." It ain't getting it.

Do you smell another panicky run to unelected Premier Greg Selinger for yet another Asper bailout?"

And that might be the good news this month.

Let's not forget the vicious fight the CMHR is in with the rest of the country's ethnic communities over the priority given to the Holocaust over everyone elses' national tragedies.

On March 25, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is giving Prime Minister Stephen Harper an award, The Shevchenko Medal, for his contribution to the country's Ukrainian community, as well as---wait for it--- his strong stance on human rights in Ukraine.

The UCC is firing a shot across the bow of the museum's board of directors. We quote from the news release:

"Prime Minister Harper and his government have made many contributions to the Ukrainian Canadian community, both at home and abroad, including the passage of An Act to establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”) Memorial Day, making Canada one of the first countries to adopt legislation to recognize the Holodomor of1932-33 as an act of genocide. The establishment by Prime Minister Harper of the “Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund” in 2008 was the culmination of many years of effort by our community to recognize the unjust internment of Ukrainian Canadians and others from 1914 – 1920."

"Prime Minister Harper has been an active proponent of democratic reforms in Ukraine as evidenced by his recent trip to Ukraine in October 2010 where he publicly expressed Canada’s commitment to human rights, democratic development, and free and fair elections in Ukraine."

It's inconceivable that Harper won't be questioned about the demand by the Ukrainian community for equal treatment in the CMHR for the Holodomor. Unless he develops the diplomatic flu, whatever he says will serve to isolate the CMHR even further.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights rolled out its own charm offensive Thursday with a love-in on CJOB.

Back in the day when The Great Canadian Talk Show on CKIC-FM was knocking the stuffing out of Richard Cloutier's version of talk radio, Cloutier resorted to imitating his rival host Marty Gold by stealing his trademark claim to "holding the powerful accountable."

Bwahahaha. On Thursday, Cloutier used his best little girl/ I-wuv-you voice to kiss up to the rich and powerful for a full hour of nauseating radio. You've heard of softball questions? Forget it. Cloutier threw out marshmallow questions. No, marshmallows are too hard. He lobbed toasted marshmallow questions.

In the most scripted Q & A imaginable, Cloutier never asked about the burning controversy over the museum's plan to have a Holocaust gallery as the only permanent display and how its giving Winnipeg and the CMHR a black eye around the world. He never once mentioned the name Gail Asper. He never asked whether the CMHR was going to pay its taxes this year or stiff the city again. (It finally paid up four months late last year.) He never asked about the abrupt and mysterious resignation of the museum's chief operating officer, Patrick O'Reilly.

So what did the travelling roadshow of Stu Murray, CEO, Angela Cassie, communications director and Kim Jasper, marketing director, have to say?

* They'll be putting the glass on the museum this summer. A Winnipeg company has tested it and assures them it will withstand the cold and snow.

* 93 percent of the work has been tendered. Cloutier didn't ask what was still outstanding.

* The museum has to raise another $22 million and "hopes" it can before the musum opens in 2013.

* The museum is counting on Rotary Clubs to bring, at the very least, 33,000 students to Winnipeg each year

* Yhe claim that the museum will attract 250,000 people a year is a "very conservative estimate."

* 50 percent of visitors will come from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Minnestota, and the other 50 percent from the rest of the world

* Murray waffled big time over what it would cost to get into the museum, but said nobody would be turned away if they couldn't pay. This was an interesting in light of a tip to The Black Rod in January which led us to this exchange on the New Winnipeg forum:
Re: Canadian Museum of Human Rights
by Time Lord on Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:08 pm
"Entrance to the museum will be free of charge.
I can see the place as a hangout for the homeless from the downtown area. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer - have a few beers on the riverbank and visit the museum. Repeat visitors will help up the attendance figures.
Could be interesting watching security trying to clear them out, especially from the Aboriginal exhibit."

Re: Canadian Museum of Human Rights
by Time Lord on Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:44 pm

prasantrin wrote:Free? How will they pay for upkeep and overhead expenses over the years the museum will be open? Donations? Funding from the government (i.e. taxpayers, most of whom will probably visit the museum no more than once if at all).
I think I need to read more about this. I've only read very basic information, but not much about what will happen once the museum is open.
"Friend of mine is working with the museum planning group. She has assured me that there will be no admission charged."

* They did blather a lot about high-tech interactive displays and digitally delivered content. Question: doesn't that use a lot of electricity? The CMHR was whining last year that they forgot to include utilities in their operating budget and they hoped the government would just top it up to keep the lights burning and the toilets flowing.

But with the feds cutting back and the museum charging no admission, where's the money coming from?

CJOB didn't ask. The calm before the storm.

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