Macdonald also did some good
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