The removal of a statue depicting Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, from the steps of the city hall in Victoria, B.C., has sparked national debate.
The City of Victoria council voted 7-1 to remove the statue as part of a process of reconciliation with the Lekwungen People, the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.
U of G Prof. David MacDonald penned an opinion piece in the Toronto Star on Aug. 21 with co-authors Bernie Farber and Michael Dan, arguing that removing the statue was a positive step forward in the era of truth and reconciliation in Canada.
The authors say Macdonald’s legacy of violence and behaviour toward Asian and Indigenous peoples far outweighs his reputation for building railroads and other infrastructure in Canada’s founding days.
The article discusses pre-existing treaties such as the “Two Row Wampum Treaty” between European settlers and Indigenous peoples. It says Macdonald used genocidal tactics to remove Indigenous peoples from their lands through starvation and disease, and advocated for the suppression of Indigenous languages, spirituality and other cultural practices.
A professor in the Department of Political Science, MacDonald studies Indigenous politics in Canada and the residential school system.
He is available for media interviews.