Artful Musing

THE ARTFUL BLOGGER: Norman Bethune exhibition coming to the Canada Science and Technology Museum

By Paul Gessell

"Bethune" by Gary Haggquist. Acrylic and collage on canvas, 36"x 36", 2008.

Some of Stephen Harper’s Conservative backbenchers flew into a rage this summer upon learning the federal government was spending $2.5 million on a new visitors’ centre at the Norman Bethune Memorial House in Gravenhurst, Ont., the birthplace of the famed battlefield doctor 170 kilometres north of Toronto.

The outraged Tories complained Bethune (1890-1939) was a Communist, so federal tax dollars should not be spent to honour his memory, even though the Gravenhurst centre is a magnet for tourists, especially from China, who hold a more positive view of the doctor lionized by Mao Zedong.

“I don’t doubt there’s a lot of people who get warm and fuzzy when they think of Norman Bethune,” Conservative MP Rob Anders was quoted in the Sun newspapers as saying. “They’re probably left-leaning. But he doesn’t warm the cockles of my heart.” (more…)