Ottawa contributes $50,000 for animals in war dedication

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Canada's Peace Tower  includes carvings of animals as a commemoration for those four-legged creatures that lost their lives in Canadian war efforts.

But apparently, that's not enough.

A group calling themselves the 'Animals in War Dedication Project' thinks we need to do a better job of remembering and the Harper government agrees.

Quebec's Le Devoir newspaper is reporting that Heritage Canada has pledged $50,000 for a dedicated war monument -- to be erected at Ottawa's Confederation Park -- honouring the animals that lost their lives in international battles.

The AIW group is being spearheaded by  89-year-old Maj. (Retired) Lloyd Swick, and includes a bi-partisan committee, including NDP MP Peter Stoffer and Conservative senator Yonah Martin. Stephen Harper's wife, Laureen, is the group's "Honourary Patron."

"I feel that this is a very worthy monument.  Much like the brave members of the Canadian forces, [war animals] have displayed tremendous courage in the face of adversity," Mrs. Haper wrote in a fundraising letter published on the group's website.

"During World War 1, horses often transported horses and cannons into treacherous terrain.  In World War 2, donkeys and mules carried heavy supplies...In the Korean War stray dogs became mascots to the Canadian soldiers defending the Korean hills. These animal companions offered tremendous comfort to our soldiers helping offset loneliness, fear and uncertainty."

AIW's website also notes that other commonwealth countries, such as the UK and Australia, already have dedicated 'animal in war' dedications.

Nevertheless, many Le Devoir readers think that the Canadian government's of $50,000 contribution could have been put to better use.

"The $50,000 could easily have been used to enhance, if only very small extent, health care services provided to Canadian veterans in coping with physical or psychological handicaps. Post-traumatic syndrome is a disturbing reality yet every year dozens of military don't get any [government] support," one reader wrote.

Another reader from Quebec suggests the Tories have become addicted to military spending.

"So [the government] cuts budgets everywhere and after a spending spree for the queen, for the War of 1812, they give $ 50,000 to honor the military dogs," he wrote.

"Is this a military-monarchical cult! I've never been a proud Canadian, but now I am ashamed."

Alas, it seems Ottawa is going to the dogs -- literally.

[ More Political Points: Deborah Coyne, mother of Pierre Trudeau's only daughter, joins Liberal leadership race ]