Removal of Macdonald’s statue provides a focus for the debate

Everything won’t suddenly be okay if we tear down statues and monuments, rename streets and schools, or even make apologies and payments to those who have suffered in the past.

It’s not like we can erase history, any more than we can pretend that humans are anything but flawed.

There are egregious exceptions where no debate is required: No one can seriously argue the merits of statues to Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot. But it’s with the others that we find ourselves swimming in quicksand.

The conundrum is finding an appropriate way to acknowledge the past in all of its complexity — warts, quirks, successes and abject failures — because if we don’t, how will we learn from the past?

By this weekend, Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue may be gone from the doorstep of Victoria’s City Hall, where it has stood since 1982, a gift from the Sir John A. Macdonald Historical Society and created by Vancouver sculpture John Dann.

On Thursday, council voted 7-1 to remove it. Councillor Geoff Young voted against the motion because there has been no public consultation, only a recommendation for its removal from a committee of three councillors and Indigenous leaders.

Among those not consulted was the society that donated it. Noting that it was council’s decision to put the statue at City Hall, society chair Michael Francis said he supports reconciliation efforts and has asked that the society be involved in discussions about a future location.

“Sometimes an appropriate location … with a suitable plaque to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the individual, may be far more instructive for all of us than its simple obliteration from the landscape,” he wrote in a letter to Mayor Lisa Helps.

There’s no question that Canada’s first prime minister and one of the Fathers of Confederation was flawed — even he readily …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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