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Renaming Vimy Park stirs controversy in Anglophone community

Protest planned as Vimy Park name change debated by council
WATCH ABOVE: Protesters demonstrated in front Outremont town hall Monday to denounce the council’s decision to rename Vimy Park in honour of former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau.

Protesters demonstrated in front of Outremont town hall Monday to denounce council’s decision to rename Vimy Park in honour of former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau.

The group says it’s an issue affecting all Canadians.

“Vimy Ridge was an important historical event, we can’t change it and we won’t change it for anyone,” protester Sharon Brienne said.

The protest was organized by Antoinette Mercurio who leads a group called Unity, a group that says it wants to “bring Canada back into Quebec,” according to its website unitygroup.ca.

“There was both French and English that fought in that war and lost their lives, so it doesn’t matter who it is,” Mercurio said. “The island of Montreal is huge, find another park for Mr. Parizeau.”

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre doesn’t see it that way.

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“Don’t look at it as Parizeau versus Vimy, because it’s not the case,” Coderre said.

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Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, where 3,598 Canadians were killed fighting in the First World War.

Coderre promises the city will be planning a special event to remember the battle.

In a council meeting on June 20, he promised the Battle of Vimy Ridge as well as the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe in the Second World War, will have celebrations on the same scale as the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation.

However, it’s simply not good enough for people like Ted Cash, whose grandfather fought in the First World War.

“I think it’s very petty, I think it’s a slap in the face, I don’t think it’s unintentional that they picked Vimy,” Cash said. “I think you can honour Mr. Parizeau in many other ways without dishonouring these other people.”

Outremont council voted unanimously to change the park’s name last October, and Montreal city council will vote whether to approve the decision on Tuesday afternoon.

Mercurio says she has very little hope that they will keep the name.

“Our Anglo councilmen, not having the backbone to protect Canadians and standing and saying no this is not right,” Mercurio said. “Their just appeasing the separatist, nationalist voters.”

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Parizeau lived on a street bordering the park.

WATCH: Renaming of Outremont Park stirs controversy