The CHA and IHAF presidents write to Ministers Raitt and Finley
Published on December 4, 2014
Dominique Marshall and Martin Paquet expressed their concerns about the designation of public infrastructre following the federal government original intention to rename the Champlain Bridge.
Ottawa & Québec, 3 December 2014
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
330 Sparks Street
As presidents of the two largest associations of historians in Canada, we are writing to you on the subject of the designation of public infrastructure. We are doing so in the wake of the debates surrounding the designation of the new bridge that will connect the South Shore to the island of Montreal. We are delighted with the decision of your government to keep the name of the Champlain Bridge. We are confident that Canadians, including Quebecers, will find another way to honor Maurice Richard, in a manner worthy of the great hockey player and folk icon that he was.
The controversy has had the positive effect of encouraging a reflection on the public infrastructure designation process. Unlike geographical entities, whose nomination benefits from the expertise of members of the Geographical Names Board of Canada, experts in history and heritage do not seem to be directly consulted when a public infrastructure is created or renovated. In the case of the new bridge in Montreal, the decision would rather have been taken following a public consultation.
We believe that the designation of public infrastructure should be carried out in consultation with experts, including historians. The Canadian Historical Association and the Institut d’histoire de l’Amérique française have some 1,500 members who possess an impressive amount of knowledge about Canada and Quebec’s pasts. They could play an important role in the public infrastructure designation process.
Therefore, we invite you to call on our members when a designation question arises. We will be happy to direct you to the most competent historians on the issue of the day.
Please accept, Dear Ministers, the expression of our highest consideration,
Dominique Marshall Martin Pâquet
Canadian Historical Association Institut d’histoire de l’Amérique française