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

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

Esquimalt High robotics team heads to international competition

The Esquimalt Atom Smashers will participate in the FIRST Robotics Canada competition

Island playoffs underway at Oak Bay High

Home team vies for fifth straight Island title

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

Most Read