“Politics is a game requiring great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling.” (John A. Macdonald). John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, is in many ways a national symbol of unity and determination. He was one of the major leaders in Canadian confederation and successfully served as the Prime Minister to represent his people, internally and internationally. For his contributions to his country, he has been recognized with countless statues and plaques throughout all Canadian cities, and in front of major Canadian government buildings. However, recently there have been calls to remove his statues, and name, from all public areas in Canada, as “Macdonald … was one of the leading architects of the residential schools which instigated the cultural genocide of Indigenous people in this country” (Redwood). Despite the claims of McDonald’s wrongdoings against indigenous cultures, McDonald should remain in public areas, as a representation of Canadian nationalism and pride.
McDonald helped craft our modern Canadian identity through his countless efforts to Confederate the Western colony and create self-governance for the new Canadian nation. McDonald crafted our peoples, by encouraging the unity of the different provinces, and attempting to free Canadians from British rule. “There may be obstructions, local differences may intervene, but it matters not — the wheel is now revolving, and we are only the fly on the wheel, we cannot delay it. The union of the colonies of British America under one sovereign is a fixed fact” (John. A. McDonald). McDonald took it upon himself to put together the scattered cultures and nations and build one big superpower with the intent of assimilating to one Canadian identity. Where no other politicians seemed to actively make progress towards a Canadian confederation, McDonald stood out from the crowd due to his unwavering passion and diligence, which allowed him to take the role of Prime Minister after the confederation, and rightfully so. He was the only one who was willing to step in front and take leadership of the nation. He modeled our modern nation and identity through his bravery.
On the other side of the argument, the activists rallying to bring down the statues cry in outrage: “We’re here to say there’s no honour in cultural genocide and it’s time for the statue to go” (Redwood). They try and claim that even despite MacDonald’s successes, he should be removed from public areas, due to his involvement in establishing the residential school system, and not providing the necessary food supplies to indigenous peoples under his leadership. What many don’t understand however that MacDonald cannot be accused for his political beliefs of the time, as they were globally shared. Accusing him of these crimes calls for the immediate removal of all Canadian citizens of the time from the public sphere, which completely dis-acknowledges their contributions to Canadian history. In fact, John A. MacDonald was far more progressive than many of his fellow Canadians, insisting that funding should be spent on food supplies to support indigenous cultures, despite heavy liberal party resistance, who opposed funding being distributed to the indigenous cultures. They affirmed that MacDonald was wasting his time, and his country’s money trying to support Indigenous peoples. Removing him for his “crimes” is an unfair evaluation of MacDonald’s contributions, as he was one of the only Canadian leaders of the time that showed care for the indigenous peoples living as part of his new nation.
In conclusion, John A. MacDonald should not be removed from the public sphere for his vast contributions to Canadian society, and cannot be labeled a “racist and criminal”, as his claimed beliefs were common at the time, and he was, in fact, more progressive than other liberal leaders, and showed far more care than others in the well-being of the indigenous population, if not maintaining their belief systems. John A. MacDonald was a progressive and ambitious Canadian leader and should not be removed from the public sphere. His removal from the public sphere would be an injustice towards Canada’s identity, pride, and unity.
Anderson, Rick. “Should Statues of Sir John A. Macdonald Be Removed? No.” Thestar.com, 20 Aug. 2018, www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/thebigdebate/2018/08/20/should-statues-of-sir-john-a-macdonald-be-removed-no.html.
Cgacomm@gmail.com. “10 Favourite Quotes of Sir John A. Macdonald.” By George Journal, www.bygeorgejournal.ca/?p=2722.
Farber, Bernie M., et al. “Should Statues of Sir John A. Macdonald Be Removed? Yes.” Thestar.com, 21 Aug. 2018, www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/thebigdebate/2018/08/21/should-statues-of-sir-john-a-macdonald-be-removed-yes.html.
“’It’s Time’: John A. Macdonald Statue Removed from Victoria City Hall | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 12 Aug. 2018, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/john-a-macdonald-statue-victoria-city-hall-lisa-helps-1.4782065.
Montgomery, Marc. “Reconciliation or Creating Divisions? History, Canada, Macdonald and the First Nations Peoples.” RCI, Radio Canada International, 24 Aug. 2018, www.rcinet.ca/en/2018/08/20/reconciliation-or-creating-divisions-history-canada-macdonald-and-the-first-nations-peoples/.
“Ontario Teacher Explains Why Sir John A. Macdonald’s Name Should Be Stripped from Public Schools | CBC Radio.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 24 Aug. 2017, www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-wednesday-edition-1.4258866/ontario-teacher-explains-why-sir-john-a-macdonald-s-name-should-be-stripped-from-public-schools-1.4258872.