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Questions surrounding museum’s opening miss point: CEO

Above: Canada’s newest and most controversial museum opens. Museum CEO Stuart Murray is interviewed on The West Block with Tom Clark.

WINNIPEG — From the time it was a mere concept, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights was mired in controversy.

It was Manitoba businessman and sometimes politician Izzy Asper who concocted the idea of building a museum to promote and explain the concept of human rights. But almost immediately, people started asking: whose human rights? Which group or individual would be considered the greatest victim of human rights?

The museum opened its doors last week, with those matters and more falling into the lap of its CEO Stuart Murray, who says those questions miss the point.

“The whole point of this museum is to really take people on a human rights journey,” he said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “It’s not a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong, but it’s from a multiple perspective how we can make this a better civil society.”

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INFOGRAPHIC: Canadian Museum for Human Rights by the numbers

The museum is neither one of genocide nor of memorialization, he said, but rather one of education around human rights.

“Canada has a past in human rights that needs to be explained to all of our visitors,” he said. “If we don’t become a place where there can be a great debate on ideas, big ideas about dialogue and controversy, then I think this museum will not fulfill the dream of Izzy Asper and, frankly, the same vision that [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper had when he decided to make this the first national museum outside of the nation’s capital.”

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