Protesting in front of war memorial does 'dishonour' to fallen soldiers, vets say

·3 min read
More than two dozen people have been gathering in front of the war memorial in Charlottetown every Saturday to stand up for 'rights and freedoms.' (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)
More than two dozen people have been gathering in front of the war memorial in Charlottetown every Saturday to stand up for 'rights and freedoms.' (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)

Some veterans on P.E.I. say holding a protest — any protest — in front of a cenotaph dishonours the veterans who fought to give them that very freedom.

William Toussaint, who served in Europe and Middle East in a 27-year military career, and Victor MacFadyen, an 89-year-old Korean War veteran, say a cenotaph is a place to pay respect to the soldiers who gave their lives for their country.

"Any kind of protest I think is wrong here," said Toussaint, 74.

"By protesting in front of it I think they are doing a dishonour to these people that died, that gave their life and sacrifice for their country."

Toussaint, the past president of the Charlottetown legion, said it's a commonly held sentiment among veterans.

He said the war memorial in Charlottetown, for example, should be a place reserved for Remembrance Day ceremonies and anyone wishing to pay respect to fallen soldiers any day of the year, not as a place for protesters to gather.

"They're using it as a background," he said. "I don't feel it is right for them to use that as a backdrop to protest."

The war memorial is located in a highly visible area at the intersection of Grafton and Great George streets, adjacent to Province House.

William Toussaint, 74, says the war memorial should not be used as a backdrop for protests.
William Toussaint, 74, says the war memorial should not be used as a backdrop for protests.(Charlottetown Legion)

There have been various protests in front of the war memorial over the years.

Most recently, a group of about two dozen people have been gathering at the site every Saturday with signs that say "Unmask Our Children," "Don't Let Them Steal Another Year," "Lockdowns Destroy Small Business," 'Enough is Enough" and "Scamdemic," among others.

'Rights and freedoms'

"It has to do with our rights and freedoms," said a woman who goes by the name Jacqueline. "Everybody has the right to speak, everybody has the right to assemble, everybody has the right to believe and have freedom of conscience, correct?"

MacFadyen agrees with the right to protest. He just wishes they would do it in another location.

"I don't think it's a proper place for protests. I cannot possibly associate a protest with what the monument means. I wouldn't go along with using them for any other thing but the recognition and the memory of our war dead."

I cannot possibly associate a protest with what the monument means. — Korean War vet Victor MacFadyen

Toussaint said it's akin to protesting in a graveyard.

"Would you want somebody to go and protest, or somebody go in front of their parents if they passed away, and protest in front of their graveyard? No you wouldn't, you wouldn't do that."

He said City Hall, the government buildings or the other side of Province House would be a more appropriate location.

"They could bring attention to them some other way, instead of using the memorial."

When asked what she would say to anyone who thought protesting in front of the war memorial showed disrespect to veterans, Jacqueline replied: "I would say we are standing for our rights and freedoms and I believe that's what they fought for so we are following their legacy."

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