Do Canadians actually think Macdonald was the only prime minister guilty of holding racist or intolerant beliefs?

Michael Taube

Since the brutal killing of George Floyd in May, left-wing radicals have been vandalizing and destroying historical buildings, landmarks and statues around the world.

U.S. presidents (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Ulysses S. Grant), and Confederate soldiers and leaders (Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Charles Linn and J.E.B. Stuart) were targeted.

Statues of Edward Colston, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi in the U.K., King Leopold II in Belgium, Jean-Baptiste Colbert in France, and Italian explorer Christopher Columbus have suffered the same fate.

Radical protesters often claim their rage is focused squarely against historical figures who espoused racism and hatred against Blacks, aboriginals and other minorities.

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That’s not accurate, however. Statues of abolitionists opposed to slavery, including Matthias Baldwin, Hans Christian Heg and Frederick Douglass – who was a Black American – have also been attacked.
Things have been much quieter in Canada. Some statues were vandalized this summer, including former Conservative prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald, British explorer George Vancouver, educator, minister and politician Egerton Ryerson and King Edward VII. Fortunately, the incidents have been few and far between.

Until last Saturday, when a group of left-wing activists destroyed a statue of Macdonald in Montreal’s Place du Canada. The disgusting display was caught on video. Protesters cheered as the monument to our first great national leader came tumbling down, and the head flew off and bounced on the pavement several times.

Many Canadian politicians have spoken out against this disgraceful act.

Quebec Premier François Legault tweeted on Aug. 29: “Whatever one might think of John A. MacDonald, destroying a monument in this way is unacceptable. We must fight racism, but destroying parts of our history is not the solution. Vandalism has no place in our democracy and the statue must be restored.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also tweeted that day: “Canada wouldn’t exist without Sir John A. Macdonald. Canada is a great county, and one we should be proud of. We will not build a better future by defacing our past. It’s time politicians grow a backbone and stand up for our country.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that he was “deeply disappointed” and “those kinds of acts of vandalism are not advancing the path towards greater justice and equality in this country.”

A stronger, quicker reaction by the PM would have obviously been appreciated. Nevertheless, his statement was far better than NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s controversial tweet on Sunday that “Taking down a statue of him doesn’t erase him from history any more than honouring him out of context erases the horrors he caused.”

What’s he referring to?

Some Canadians feel frustration about Macdonald’s mistreatment of Indigenous communities. This includes his support for forced assimilation, implementing residential schools that led to instances of harm, abuse and neglect, and incendiary language against Indigenous Canadians that would be unacceptable in modern society.

Fair enough and we should criticize it. But it’s wrong to say Macdonald was unique in this regard.

Consider a column the National Post’s Tristan Hooper wrote on Aug. 28, 2018. He pointed out that Macdonald told Parliament on April 27, 1882: “I have reason to believe that the agents as a whole … are doing all they can, by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”

While that’s “one of the most damning quotations ever attributed to Macdonald,” Hooper noted that “it’s immediately followed by an even more damning comment as the Liberal opposition benches accuse Macdonald of not starving Indians enough.”

Indeed, Liberal MP David Mills, minister of the interior under then-prime minister Alexander Mackenzie, retorted, “No doubt the Indians will bear a great degree of starvation before they will work, and so long as they are certain the government will come to their aid they will not do much for themselves.”

Do Canadians actually think Macdonald was the only prime minister guilty of holding racist or intolerant beliefs?

On Aug. 12, 1911, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his Liberal cabinet approved Order-in-Council P.C. 1324. What did it pertain to?

Banning black people from Canada for a year because “the Negro race … is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.”

You would think either a left-wing radical or Black Lives Matter protester would have latched on to this. Yet there’s been nary a peep from the so-called “woke” crowd.

Macdonald, like Laurier, did great things for our nation. They were great leaders who believed in Canada. They were also great prime ministers who were flawed and products of their time.

They were much like every other historical figure who’s been attacked in some fashion during these unusual times.

Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.

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