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A Counter-Petition Is Rejecting The Petition To Change The Name Of Lionel-Groulx Station

The earlier petition calls for the station to be renamed after Oscar Peterson.
Contributing Writer
A Counter-Petition Says Lionel-Groulx Metro Station Should Keep Its Name

An online petition to rename the Lionel-Groulx metro station after legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has been met with a counter-petition asking that the station keep its current name. The change.org counter-petition, created by Vincent Filteau, had gathered more than 9,800 signatures toward its goal of 10,000 as of Friday. It argues changing the name would amount to an erasure of history.  

"In the name of preserving the collective memory and our intellectual heritage, in the name of respect for one of our greatest writers and historians, we consider that the erasure of the name of Lionel Groulx from the map of the Montreal metro represents a consent to amnesia and to a recasting of our past," the petition reads (translated from French).  

"We don't object to Oscar Peterson's name being nominated for a new metro station in Montreal. We simply wish that the intellectual contribution and the memory of Lionel Groulx be honoured at their fair value. They certainly do not deserve to disappear in this way," it continues.  

The petition ends with a call for the names of both Lionel Groulx and Oscar Peterson to one day "appear on the map of the Montreal metro."

Signers have used the petition as a springboard to launch discussions in the comments about other ways to honour Peterson without renaming the station. 

A celebrated priest and historian, Groulx was a founder of Quebec nationalism whose writings were important in developing a sense of identity and pride among Quebecers.  

But since the '90s, his legacy has been reexamined. 

A number of scholars, most notably historian Esther Delisle and Montreal author Mordecai Richler, have accused the cleric of being a supporter of fascism and anti-Semitism.  

However, other scholars point to some of his other writings that seem to oppose anti-Semitism.   

He was also quoted as writing that "anti-Semitism is not only an un-Christian solution; it is a negative and stupid solution."

There have been other efforts to change the metro station’s name over the past decades.  

In 1996, B'nai Brith Canada called on the city to rename the station after Paul Emile-Cardinal Leger, "another cleric but one whose life work was committed to the underprivileged of all races and religions."  

"This demand is nothing new," said the organization in a statement at the time. "Other minority groups have also expressed their resentment that [Groulx's] name should be attached to a leading public facility in their midst."

"It is now ever more clear, that whatever Groulx's other accomplishments, he led and inspired a variety of nationalism that was ethnocentric, anti-Semitic and xenophobic," it continued.  

Located in Saint-Henri, the Lionel-Groulx metro station is an important transfer point between the Green and Orange lines.

The online petition calling on the city to rename the station after Peterson — an eight-time Grammy award-winning musician who grew up in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood — has gathered over 21,000 signatures in two weeks.

The organizers of the Peterson initiative have the right to submit their petition to the STM board so that the request is officially registered.

However, the STM has rejected all requests it received for name changes since 1989 and declared a moratorium on station name changes 14 years ago.

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