Editorial by: T. Garrett McHue
I’m deeply concerned that some of people who call themselves ‘Canadians’ are trying to rewrite Canadian history by tearing down statues of our First Prime Minister and renaming schools that bear his name. If we do this, we risk forgetting his vital legacy: forcibly assimilating indigenous people while blind drunk on gin.
Unlike the monuments for Confederate Generals in the United States, Macdonald’s legacy is far more nuanced. This isn’t about slavery; it’s about the state-sanctioned kidnapping of children for the purposes of eliminating their language and culture and taking their land to build a country on top of it. That’s a big difference.
What these revisionists are overlooking is his accomplishments. Whose government but John A’s could build railways funded by bribes from railroad barons and constructed by exploited migrant labour? Who else was as sympathetic to the Confederates during the US Civil war? And who else could vomit in the middle of an election debate because he was too drunk and then immediately make a clever quip about it? SIR JOHN A MACDONALD, that’s who!
If you tear down the statues of our First Prime Minister, then why not people like Joseph Brant, Mackenzie King, The Famous Five, and countless of other famous Canadians? I don’t want to live in a nation that doesn’t recognize its brave slave-owning eugenicist heroes who interned the Japanese during World War II.
Removing statues will have consequences. Just look at what happened in Ukraine when they tore down statues to Lenin. The entire population immediately forgot that they were once under the brutal dictatorship of the Soviet Union, and now Russia has re-invaded a portion of their country because they chose to eliminate their history. I don’t want Canada to be invaded by Russians, but there are some naive people in this country who do.
What concerns me most is how our young children will never learn to blindly glorify our questionable past and instead, resort to critically assessing their history in order to not make the same mistakes as their ancestors did. If it comes to that, why are we even teaching history in the first place?
Without dozens of statues, schools, and plaques preserving his name, Sir John A’s legacy will be erased. Unless, of course, you consider all of the museums, history textbooks, the $10 bill, stamps, taverns, bars, pubs, and an award winning CBC miniseries starring Shawn Doyle, but those don’t matter.
If we don’t memorialize Macdonald in busts of bronze and granite, his legacy will only live on through the indigenous communities he set out to destroy.