Macdon­ald also did some good

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - OPINION -

Af­ter Vic­to­ria re­moves John A. Macdon­ald’s statue it might con­sider re­plac­ing it with one of Ulysses S. Grant. Had Macdon­ald not per­suaded Bri­tish Columbia to join Con­fed­er­a­tion in 1871 by promis­ing it a rail link, the Bri­tish colony could have joined the U.S.

The Amer­i­cans, af­ter pur­chas­ing Alaska from Rus­sia in 1867, wanted to an­nex B.C. to bridge the gap be­tween their two ter­ri­to­ries. This pro­posal was also at­trac­tive to some of the colony’s set­tlers and it kept Macdon­ald awake at night.

Macdon­ald, who be­came prime min­is­ter in 1867, and Grant, who be­came pres­i­dent in 1869, were ri­val suit­ors for the colony’s hand and the good guy won, al­though Macdon­ald no longer oc­cu­pies that pedestal. Macdon­ald’s cur­rent crit­ics of his Abo­rig­i­nal poli­cies should also ex­am­ine those of Grant.

Grant sent Lt. Col. Ge­orge Custer and 1,000 sol­diers into the Black Hills to re­move the Abo­rig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants. Read­ers are fa­mil­iar with Custer’s Last Stand, Amer­ica’s great­est In­dian war, but they should be re­minded that the ter­ri­tory was owned by the Lakota In­di­ans and they had a treaty with Wash­ing­ton to prove it.

This was sim­ply an il­le­gal cam­paign de­fy­ing treaty.

To his credit Macdon­ald es­chewed war­ring against our Abo­rig­i­nals, choos­ing to make treaties. If B.C. had be­come a U.S. state would an­other Custer have been sent in?

Cana­dian his­to­rian J.L. Granat­stein cau­tions that “the past is not sup­posed to be twisted com­pletely out of shape to serve present ends. To do so mocks the dead and makes fools of the liv­ing; it re­duces the past to a mere per­spec­tive on the present.” Wilf Popoff, Saska­toon

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