Standing up for Sir John A. Macdonald
They are at it again.
You may have heard the news; the City of Victoria is removing a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from the front steps of city hall.
To us at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute – an organization whose name honours in part the monumental legacy of our First Prime Minister – this shaming of Canada’s history is both wrong and self-defeating.
And we aren’t alone in thinking this way. In fact, Senator Murray Sinclair, the former judge who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has argued that denigrating our past is no way to promote meaningful reconciliation:
“The problem I have with the overall approach to tearing down statues and buildings is that is counterproductive to ... reconciliation because it almost smacks of revenge or smacks of acts of anger, but in reality, what we are trying to do, is we are trying to create more balance in the relationship," Sinclair said in 2017.
Senator Sinclair is right; you cannot elevate one person or group by abasing another. True reconciliation should focus on elevating the many inspirational Indigenous leaders throughout Canada’s history rather than denigrating Canada’s Founders.
We at MLI will always speak up for a fair and balanced approach to Canada’s history – one that both recognizes the tremendous contributions of our founders and their imperfections, while also celebrating the contributions of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and seeking to remove obstacles to their full participation in Canadians society.
There is no conflict between these objectives.
That’s why we are proud to have won a Senate Canada 150 medal for our work on Canada’s founding AND to have been shortlisted for the best think tank project in the world for our work on advancing the economic prospects of First Nations, Metis and Inuit within Canada.
Removing monuments to Macdonald isn’t merely a poor and mean-spirited way to honour his exemplary contributions to Canada. It is an impossible task, for we, all Canadians, and the country we love, are his greatest monument. He lives on in us.
As I’ve said before, Sir John A. Macdonald was neither angel nor devil, but a fallible human being who accomplished great things. More than anything, Macdonald is owed our thoughtful, measured thanks – not our derision.
Thank you for standing up for our first Prime Minister – a man without whom there would be no Canada.
Brian Lee Crowley, Managing director Macdonald- Laurier Institute