Parliament Hill memorial for Canadians killed Sept. 11 to be unveiled


OTTAWA (CP) - A memorial dedicated to Canadians and those with close Canadian ties who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States will be unveiled Tuesday on Parliament Hill.

Several family members of the Canadians who perished, most when two hijacked commercial jets slammed into New York's World Trade Center, have confirmed they'll attend the memorial service. The names of 26 victims include two Americans who were married to Canadians and a Briton who lived in Ontario for 20 years. They have been engraved on a plaque that will be unveiled in a meditation room in Parliament's East Block.

The family of a 24th Canadian victim, Alexander Filipov, asked that his name be kept off the memorial because he gave up his Canadian citizenship when he became a U.S. citizen in 1962.

The multi-faith ceremony will feature tributes from leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, officials said Monday.

Liberal MP Dan McTeague, who requested the memorial several months ago through Commons Speaker Peter Milliken's office, said a permanent reminder is necessary.

"The names of those individuals should never be forgotten," he said. "These were people who were cut down in their prime. These are people who have families and loved ones."

Prime Minister Jean Chretien did not support establishment of a memorial when the issue was first raised in the days following the attacks in 2001, in which a plane also slammed into the Pentagon and another crashed in Pennsylvania.

McTeague said the seriousness of the tragedy and the ongoing threat of terrorism, which he said respects no national boundaries, spurred his call for the memorial.

"The fact that so many Canadians were killed is significant," said McTeague. "It's not lost on Parliament, and has led to our desire to have a permanent record of the high cost of human life when hatred goes unbridled or unchecked."

The timing of the ceremony, which has been planned for weeks, has nothing to do with a looming conflict between the U.S. and Iraq, he added.

"There is no political overtone to this," he said. "It is really a tribute to those innocents slaughtered by acts of terrorism predicated on hate."

Chretien announced Monday that Canada will not participate in a war on Iraq without the support of a new UN Security Council resolution.

Some 30 MPs and senators are scheduled to attend the service.

The Canadians killed included Garnet (Ace) Bailey, the 53-year-old director of pro scouting for the NHL's L.A. Kings. The native of Lloydminster, Sask., was on United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center.

Another victim - LeRoy Homer, 36 - died when the United Airlines Flight 93 he was co-piloting went out of control and crashed in a Pennsylvania field. A group of passengers along with Homer had tried to overcome the hijackers.

Homer, an American married to Canadian Melodie Thorpe, was honoured posthumously for his actions.

The Canadian Press, 2003

03/17/2003 18:01 EST