Last month, Victoria’s city council voted to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald – Canada’s first Prime Minister – from the steps of City Hall.
The decision came after a consultation with Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations regarding Macdonald’s legacy. His role in establishing Canada’s shameful residential school system was a particular point of criticism.
And so, without really consulting anyone else, it was determined that the statue shall go and be replaced by a plaque.
More on the plaque in a moment. As it turns out, the majority of Canadians oppose the removal of the statue – let alone have a consensus about what to do with it or the place it formerly stood.
A new poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, 70 per cent of Canadians feel that the statue should not be removed from public view. Eighty-one per cent of Conservative voters share this view, while around 47 per cent of Liberals agree. Thirty-seven per cent of NDP voters, meanwhile, support the removal.
There’s also a considerable divide among Canadians about how to go about balancing Macdonald’s place in history with Canada’s ramped up efforts at reconciliation. Currently, a plaque takes up place where Macdonald recently stood. Which was vandalized almost immediately.
That should give you an indication of how Canadians feel about the plaque. Victoria mayor Lisa Helps says the statue will be moved to another public space in the city, which the poll determined is an equally unpopular move among Canadians. Forty-four per cent say the statue should be moved to a museum; 37 per cent say it should stay at City Hall; 13 per cent say it should be moved somewhere else; and six per cent it should be completely removed from public view.
So it seems as though Canadians prefer contextualization as opposed to all-out removal. How about a plaque beside the statue?