Norway vigil reinstated

UPDATED A vigil for the victims of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was resumed beneath the flagpole of the Elijah Smith Building yesterday, after being briefly evicted by security guards a day earlier.

UPDATED

A vigil for the victims of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was resumed beneath the flagpole of the Elijah Smith Building yesterday, after being briefly evicted by security guards a day earlier.

Jean-Francois Des Lauriers had created a small memorial to commemorate the deaths of 73 adults and children, only to be told to move it off the federal government’s land.

He found an unlikely ally in his Conservative MP, Ryan Leef. Des Lauriers is a longtime trade unionist and no friend of Stephen Harper’s government.

But Leef leapt into action after hearing Des Lauriers’ concerns. He rang up senior staff in the Department of Public Works and, by Monday afternoon, received a commitment that the vigil would be allowed on government property.

Security at the Elijah Smith Building has been handled since the autumn of 2009 by SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based construction and engineering giant. The company requires groups that gather on the property to obtain liability insurance.

It remains unclear whether this requirement was always on the books, but never strictly enforced, or introduced after the company received the property management contract.

In either case, it’s only after SNC-Lavalin took over the building that nonprofit groups, such as Blood Ties Four Directions, began to be booted off the property for hanging posters and distributing pamphlets.

On Monday, the company took enforcement to new heights by removing a plaque – no more than a short plank of wood with holes drilled in it to support two small Norwegian flags – from beneath the flagpoles.

It still remains unclear what the threshold is for a gathering to require insurance. But Leef is promising to get to the bottom of it, “so we don’t have any more surprises about this.”

Protests are regularly held at Parliament Hill, and these groups aren’t required to obtain insurance, said Leef. The Elijah Smith Building should be no different, he said.

“Every Yukoner should feel welcome here.”

Unsurprisingly, the Conservative and the trade unionist have very different takes on the root problem at hand.

For Des Lauriers, it’s another case of the Harper government stifling public criticism, and of multinational corporations run amok.

For Leef, it’s another example of government red tape fettering individual liberty.

But both remained happy with Tuesday’s outcome.

Des Lauriers offered Leef kudos for sorting out the snafu. “I have to give him credit, he really went to bat,” he said.

By that morning, approximately 50 bypassers had written comments about the tragedy in a binder that Des Lauriers left on a folding table.

He planned to take down the vigil later that day, but it’s since been relocated to the foyer of the territorial legislature, where it will remain until August 5.

Des Lauriers has no blood ties to Norway. But he easily identifies with the victims. Many were members of Norway’s ruling Labour Party.

He also sympathizes with the parents of the many children killed in the attack. He has a grown son and daughter.

Des Lauriers blamed “the rhetoric of hate that’s been allowed to grow” following the September 11 terrorism attacks. The attacker’s stated goal was to provoke a violent backlash against the world’s Muslims.

“This has got to stop,” said Des Lauriers.

“Today we mourn. Tomorrow we build a better world.”

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read