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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The dishonourable Mr. Harper tries to honour himself

Feminist Therese Casgrain disappears from public history under Harper

OTTAWA -- The Harper government has spent millions to commemorate the War of 1812 and other episodes from Canadian history, but has also erased at least one inspiring piece of the past.

Therese Casgrain, a feminist icon and Quebec heroine who died in 1981, has been quietly removed from a national honour, to be replaced by an volunteer award bearing the prime minister's banner.

The Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award was first awarded in 1982 by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau.

It honoured Canadian activists such as June Callwood until it was eliminated -- unannounced --by the Harper government in 2010.

An image of Casgrain and her namesake volunteer-award medal also disappeared from Canada's $50 bank note in 2012, replaced by the image of an icebreaker on a new currency series.

An image of the so-called Famous Five women was removed from the same bank note.
"It was a very difficult thing for the family to see the award disappear all of a sudden," Michele Nadeau, Casgrain's granddaughter, said in an interview. "It was a great disappointment."

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, which had administered the Casgrain award, was instructed in 2010 to create a Prime Minister's Volunteer Award in its place, to be handed out in a ceremony each year presided over by Stephen Harper.

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