Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Your Name Here

One of the advantages of long-running tenure in government is being able to build a legacy, not just in the statutes, but also in bricks and mortar, and leaving your name and the names of your cronies carved therein for eternity.

Thus why our federal government has many more buildings named for Liberal politicians than Conservative politicians.

But that may be about to change:

The handful of Conservative political names on federal buildings includes Mr. Diefenbaker -- with the Saskatoon airport named in his honour -- Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir John Thompson, a justice minister under Mr. Macdonald, George Etienne Cartier, Macdonald's co-leader of the Great Coalition at Confederation, former prime minister Arthur Meighen and Harry Stevens, a Conservative MP who opposed Asian immigration at the turn of the 20th century.

In contrast, former Liberal prime minister Lester B. Pearson, Mr. Diefenbaker's arch-foe, has his name on two buildings -- the Lester B. Pearson Building on Sussex Drive, the headquarters for the Foreign Affairs Department, as well as the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada's busiest airport.

Louis St. Laurent, the Liberal prime minister who succeeded Liberal wartime prime minister Mackenzie King, has been honoured with his name on two buildings as well, one in Hull and one in Quebec City, as has Pierre Trudeau. Montreal's Dorval Airport was recently re-named the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, while a proposed Federal Court building in Ottawa that will not be constructed for years has already been named after him.


Public Works Department policy stipulates that the minister of the department is responsible for approving the names of all federal government structures, including bridges, buildings and other installations. A copy of the policy says the department's deputy minister is formally responsible for submitting proposed names to the minister.

In a change from past practice, Public Works Minister Michael Fortier last month invited citizens of Regina to submit nominations for naming a new federal building in the Saskatchewan capital.


There are 82 named or dedicated federal buildings in Canada, according to a list provided by the department of Public Works -- 27 are named after Liberals, nine after Conservatives, two after other political leaders and 44 after other historical figures.

The usual practice was to wait until people (with the exception of the Royal Family) had died before naming public buildings in their honour.

But this practice has fallen by the wayside, so why not think of a few living Tory worthies to whom government buildings can be dedicated? Surely there's a building worthy of bearing Brian Mulroney's name. Or Ralph Klein's. Or even Garth Turner's.

Or maybe we can start renaming airports again. Joe Clark International Airport in Calgary, anyone?

Source: Ottawa Citizen

1 comment:

jeff said...

joe clark is most deserving. garth turner? maybe a barber shop.