EDITORIAL: Statue’s removal stokes divisions

Removal of John A. Macdonald statue serves as political wedge

And amidst the dew of a freshly arisen dawn, it was gone.

The statue of John A. Macdonald was removed from the steps of Victoria’s City Hall at 7 a.m. Saturday, culminating four days of divisive debate since the city’s Mayor Lisa Helps announced it on her campaign website.

Helps reasoning was to remove the statue so that “family members and other Indigenous people do not need to walk past this painful reminder of colonial violence each time they enter the doors of their municipal government.”

There is no doubt that Macdonald’s status as the founder of Canada’s residential school system and the blatantly racist statements he made at the time are a painful reminder of this country’s original sin.

But it wasn’t for his role in the birth of the residential school system Macdonald was being commemorated, but for the founding of a nation.

“Show me a man in 1860 who hasn’t said something or done something that is considered not politically correct to modern standards,” said one of the protesters Saturday morning. “What, are we going to tear down statues of everyone born before 1900?”

“The statue is celebrating and glorifying a particular historical figure who was one of the leading architects of cultural genocide,” said one of the supporters.

It wasn’t the decision itself that struck a nerve with so many in the community, it was the way in which it was carried out.

It was announced on a campaign website, signalling the unofficial start of the municipal campaign, one where a cultural wedge will be used to divide the electorate. It was a political stunt of almost Trumpian proportions, in its execution if diametrically opposed in its ideology.

Most around the council table were stunned by the mayor’s announcement, and a new location for the statue has yet to be decided upon. The lack of preparation and disdain for the advice of colleagues seems torn straight from the Trump playbook.

Bringing council on stream before the decision was announced, and having a plan in place for the aftermath would have avoided much of the divisive sentiment that has been stoked by the issue. But then, it seems that was always part of the plan.

Just Posted

Sidney bank robbery suspect also sought in connect to Abbotsford robbery

Lucas Daryl Bradwell, 28, is known to frequent the Lower Mainland but is believed to be on Vancouver Island

More ideas come forward for Victoria’s Centennial Square

Ideas from over 1,400 residents are being presented to council

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

Greater Victoria group helps low-income, at-risk seniors stay safe

Victoria chapter of 100+ Women Who Care donate $30,300 to Eldercare Foundation

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

Nine kittens and cats rescued after being locked in bins in northern B.C.: SPCA

SPCA says cats were starving, and matted with feces and urine

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

U.S. tug firm to be sentenced for 2016 spill in B.C. First Nation’s territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Asylum figures show overall slower rate of irregular crossings into Canada

Between January and June 2019, a total of 6,707 asylum seekers crossed irregularly into Canada

Wolves not gnawing into Island’s prey population

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

Most Read