The Portrait Gallery: Harper must listen to some expert advice



    OTTAWA, Feb. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The federal government is making a
colossal cultural and financial mistake by locating the National Portrait
Gallery outside the Ottawa-Gatineau region according to a group of labour
leaders representing workers of Canada's museum community.
    "Museum workers are unanimous: to be viable and to fulfill its cultural
mandate, the Portrait Gallery must be located in Ottawa-Gatineau region," said
Ed Cashman, the Regional Executive Vice-President for the Public Service
Alliance of Canada, the union representing workers in all major federal museum
institutions in Canada.
    Labour leaders representing museum workers met in Ottawa to discuss the
Conservative government's competitive bidding process for the Portrait
Gallery. The meeting was attended by employees of the Canadian Museum of
Civilization, Canadian Museum of Nature, National Museum of Science and
Technology and the National Gallery of Canada.).
    They indicated that a Portrait Gallery that is not geographically part of
the critical mass of the museums in the National Capital Region will not be
able to fulfill its national and cultural mandate. They cited as an example of
a poorly planned museum the NGC's Shawinigan Place created during former
Premier Minister Jean Chrétien's term in office. According to these museum
experts, Shawinigan Place is slowly being reduced to the level of regional
attraction because it does not have access to the revenue generated by the
tourism industry in the National Capital Region.
    Library and Archives Canada currently stores in the Ottawa-Gatineau area
more than 50, 000 articles that constitute the collection of the Portrait
Gallery. To have the secure storage facility and the gallery thousand of
kilometers apart will create several problems. Both the costs of
transportation and the risk of damage to the collection will increase
considerably.
    These experts also said that if the Portrait Gallery was located away
from Ottawa-Gatineau, Canada would become the first country among the G7 not
to have such a gallery in its national capital.
    For Cashman, the Harper government has no choice at this point but to
abandon its plan to locate the Portrait Gallery far from the national capital.
"The history in portrait of Canada's leaders and prominent citizens must
remain in the country's Parliamentary city," he said. "Museum workers who are
experts in the field are adding their voices to the debate; Mr. Harper must
heed this advice," he concluded.




For further information:

For further information: Ed Cashman, PSAC REVP, (613) 560-4380


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