By Wang Qi, Sina English
A Canadian Member of Parliament recently defamed Norman Bethune, the Canadian doctor considered a hero in China, saying he "was a fan" of Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.
Rob Anders, member of Parliament for Calgary West, made the remarks in his criticism of the federal funding for a memorial to Norman Bethune.
According to reports of Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC), Treasury Board President Tony Clement had approved to allot $2.5 million for the new tourist attraciton at Bethune Memorial House in Gravehurst, Ont., which was officially opened last Wednesday.
Anders, also a vocal critic of China strongly opposing the project, said, "I think there's a lot of people out there that think it's pretty questionable and spurious that taxpayer money is being used to support something like this.”
"I don't think that you need to spend millions of dollars to lionize somebody who was a supporter of Mao," Anders said.
CBC said Anders's words might suggest his dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the conservatives' shift in policies to China.
The Harper administration had criticized China on issues concerning human rights and the Dalai Lama, which led to the strain of in bilateral relations. But Harper later softened his toughness in China policy after meeting strong opposition from the country's economic sector.
Anders's remarks have sparks hot debate in media and among Canadian netizens.
Some media criticized Clement who supports the project as "a moron useful for China," demanding the Canadian government pull down the Bethune Memorial House.
But hundreds of Canadian netizens voiced their objections online.
On CBC's website, some netizens left comments, saying Bethune is a "hero."
Some comments say Bethune contributed a lot to Canada, and his achievements should not be ignored even if his political faith is not shared by all.
Others list his contributions in treatment of tuberculosis, safety in blood transfer and welfare for the destitute and his talent in movie producing and drama, ridiculing Anders as a "ridiculous politician lacking knowledge about Canadian historical figures."
Toronto Sun, a Canadian newspaper said on Saturday that Bethune was not only a "Maoist" or a figure related to China, but also the medical pioneer of the public healthcare system that Canadians took pride in, the founder of free clinics for the jobless, and the inventor of rib shears that bear his name and are used to this day by physicians.
When Japan invaded China during the World War II, Bethune arrived on the front lines of the resistance war, caring for the communist fighters until he died in 1939. He was deemed a "person of national historic significance" by the Canadian federal government in 1972; his birthplace in Gravenhurst became a national historic site in 1996.
Rob Anders’ defamation of a historic figure like Norman Bethune is just a political stunt which in turn will disgrace none other than him.