06/25/2015 15:38 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 01:12 EDT

Controversial victims of communism monument smaller, but very much alive

OTTAWA - A controversial monument to victims of communism on Ottawa's main ceremonial street will now be significantly smaller, according to new plans for the site.The National Capital Commission — an unelected body of federal appointees that oversees land in and around the national capital — says the monument would now occupy 37 per cent of a prime piece of land, instead of 60 per cent.The Harper government wants the monument erected on vacant land adjacent to the Supreme Court of Canada on Wellington St., just west of Parliament Hill.The plan is opposed by the a variety of groups, including the City of Ottawa, the Canadian Bar Association, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and various architectural institutes.The commission says the new monument would also be only half as tall as originally envisioned.It says further design refinements are expected before the project reaches the final approval stage, expected in the coming months.The plot of land had originally been intended for a new Federal Court building.The monument has sparked controversy because it is seen as an ideologically driven project by the Harper government that would be out of sync with its surroundings.The NCC is comprised of federal appointees, and on Wednesday the organization announced that the government had appointed five new board members.At least three of the new appointees have links to either federal or provincial political conservatives, sparking complaints that the Harper government was attempting to stack the NCC board in its favour."The people of Ottawa deserve better than arrogant, undemocratic partisan meddling and subversion of due process on this monument," said NDP MP Paul Dewar, who represents the downtown Ottawa riding."Architects, the Ottawa mayor and council, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and most local residents have all raised legitimate concerns with the plan for this monument. But instead of listening and respecting these perspectives, the Conservatives are bringing in party insiders to ram through their ideological project."Prime Minister Stephen Harper's aversion to communism is well documented. In a speech to a partisan audience last year, he called it a "poisonous ideology" with "ruthless practices that slowly bled into countries around the world, on almost every continent."