Cemetery law passes

Raffy
Raffy Boudjikanian
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Field's honour untouched: Last Post Fund President

Bill C-17, a federal piece of legislation that designates Ottawa's Beechwood cemetery as Canada's national cemetery, will come into force shortly after passing through a third reading by the Canadian Senate yesterday afternoon. "As Parliament is not sitting for the next two weeks, the Committee on Social Affairs, Housing and Technology President, Senator Art Eggleton, passed the third reading so the project would not be delayed," said Senate spokesperson Jean-Guy Desgagné.

First introduced into the House of Commons at the beginning of March by the Canadian government, the bill received unanimous approval by all federal parties. However, it had raised some eyebrows locally, as some were concerned it would have diminished the importance of Pointe Claire's own Field of Honour, a nationally recognized cemetery for Canadian armed forces.

Guy Rousseau, Quebec branch manager of non-profit organization Last Post Fund, which caters to military gravesites across the country, had told The Chronicle of his concerns. "What's sort of upsetting is that they want to declare the military cemetery in Ottawa a national cemetery, but we are already here as a cemetery for veterans and soldiers," he had said.

However, the same organization's national council president, Louis Cuppens, later said his group is not opposed at all to the pending legislation. "Nothing diminishes the importance of what we have as a field of honour," Cuppens said shortly after meeting with the Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Technology and Social Affairs yesterday morning. "Everybody (at the committee meeting today) was in support of this law as it exists today," he added.

At the committee meeting, Cuppens suggested the Senate consider expanding the National Cemetery of Canada concept, designating some different cemeteries in Canada with important national figures buried there as a "family" of cemeteries. "But even if they don't do it, that's fine with me," he said.

He added the military was already studying such a "family" solution to its own national cemeteries.

Parks Canada, the federal authority which handles special designation for parks in the country, had previously told The Canadian Press it was not necessarily in agreement with the idea of creating a "family" of national cemeteries.

Parks Canada did not return telephone calls for comment as of press time.

Organizations: Canadian Senate, Committee on Social Affairs, Housing and Technology President House of Commons Last Post Fund Parks Canada Senate Standing Committee on Housing Canadian Press

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Pointe Claire Quebec

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