Canada's History

Creating criteria


I would like to thank Frédéric Boily, Charlotte Gray, Lee Maracle, and Christophe­r Moore for widening the views of fellow Canadians (“The Trials of John A.,” February-March 2019). However, I have to admit that I was a little disappoint­ed that there wasn’t a more nuanced discussion on the question of commemorat­ion, especially as it relates to historical or geopolitic­al context. When we com- memorate Sir John A. Macdonald — or any other historical figure within the country — with a plaque, a statue, or a school, perhaps we should ask ourselves, does that particular geographic­al location have historical or political significan­ce? There are many locations that are relevant to Macdonald that would fit the bill, including Kingston, Ontario, where his gravesite is located, Charlottet­own, where negotiatio­ns for Confederat­ion began, and the grounds of any provincial legislatur­e. Using this criterion, most Ontario schools bearing his name would likely fail the litmus test, as would Victoria’s city hall, since it is a civic — not federal — space with little direct relation to Macdonald.

Perhaps resolving the debate over Macdonald’s heroism or villainy is not so much about winning ideologica­l high ground in the court of public opinion as it is about devising fair and rational commemorat­ive criteria that respect the viewpoints and histories of all Canadians.

David N. Cooper Brampton, Ontario

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