McDonald’s statue in Regina Park latest going

News analysis

The Regina City Council’s vote to remove the statue of Sir John A. McDonald from a prominent city park is the latest in the monument to the founder of Canada and the trend to remove his name from the building, and some It is worrisome to historians and others.

Brian Geese Brecht, a retired judge and senior researcher at the Frontier Center for Public Policy, said the push to remove the statue felt “a kind of disappointment.”

“Our history, it really defines us, and what does it mean if we start erasing it, and how does it affect us?” He said in an interview. Said.

“And what do we teach the kids at school? John A. actually tells the kids that he was a villain, but he was a villain, so now he has to take down his statue. Won’t it tell them that their country isn’t good? “

Geese Brecht said that Canada’s first prime minister’s feat of laying the foundations of the country we know today was a very difficult achievement, and despite his personal failure, he was a true hero. Say there is.

“It’s not rational to expect him to be the perfect person by our modern standards,” he says.

On March 31, Regina’s city council voted 7-4 to remove the McDonald’s statue from Victoria Park. It will be stored during public consultation at the new location.

In 2016, the council agreed to implement a phrase that encourages action by the Truth Commission. Over the past few years, indigenous activists have protested the statue of McDonald’s and called for the removal of McDonald’s because of McDonald’s role in initiating the housing school system and other indigenous policies.

According to a recent city manager’s report, the current location of the statue “makes some indigenous people feel unwelcome” in Victoria Park. According to the report, the park’s design is important because it is “an important place to build a community and a place for major cultural events, including the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day. “.

At a meeting on March 31, councilor Bob Hawkins proposed an amendment to leave the statue intact, with further public consultation on the removal of the statue, but he was voted 6-5. It was.

Hawkins told the Epoch Times that the process and results were flawed.

“The reconciliation must be the product of a genuine, open-minded dialogue, and when you don’t have it, and when we don’t have it here, the reconciliation is harmed. I hope we can move beyond that, “he said.

“I am also very disappointed, as a student of Canadian history, that Sir John A. McDonald’s record was not presented with a balanced picture in this case.”

Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth Commission, said in 2017: anger. “

Hawkins, a graduate of Oxford and Yale University with a degree in law, history, and economics, cited Sinclair as a member of the council. He expected negative results because they were not forced.

“For many, there is anger and they have a bitter feeling about this, which will move the settlement back rather than forward,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll break the statue of a celebrity and make a settlement.”

The McDonald’s Regina statue, which has a political history of nearly 50 years and its greatest achievement was the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was built during the Canadian Centennial in 1967.

James Pitzra, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Regina, said that since then, Canadians’ knowledge of their history has diminished and “the whole of Canada does not have a strong sense of that history.” ..

“Most people … have clues about national policy in 1878, the Grand Coalition in 1864, the battle for responsible governments in the 1840s and 1850s, and the conflict between French and English in which McDonald’s collaborated with Cartier. No. Fear of American takeover of the West — the full range of everything McDonald’s involved, “he said.

“Even after 1867, the whole country could easily collapse. It was a struggle, and he kept pulling it all together.”

According to Pitsla, McDonald’s had its own skill set needed to realize Canadian constitutional concepts, such as “the greasy tips of trading and building coalitions.”

“He was able to get consent among big movers, rockers and big players in politics and business. He was able to get everyone on the same page more or less.”

Geese Brecht says McDonald’s was misjudged.

“One of the allegations is that John A. McDonald forced indigenous children to attend a residential school. It was totally because indigenous children were not required to attend until 1920. It’s a mistake … McDonald specifically stated that at that stage of history you shouldn’t just be forced to go to school. I’ve never sat in school, “he said.

“Many of the progressive chiefs wanted school construction and education, especially English education. John A. McDonald went with them.”

McDonald’s was also instrumental in creating Regina. He appointed the Conservative Edgar Dudeney to the Cabinet in 1879 as the Indigenous Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and in 1881 as Vice Governor. Their common influence led the railroad and in 1883 designated Regina as the territorial capital.

At a meeting on March 31, the city council accepted a proposal to remove Dewdney’s name from the city’s pool and rename it to Buffalo Meadows Pool. According to a report by the city administration, Dudeney was “directly responsible for developing and managing harmful policies for indigenous peoples.”

In other states, there are campaigns to remove McDonald’s name from public schools. In 2017, the Ontario Federation of Elementary School Teachers adopted a resolution calling on the state board of education to consider this move. In November 2020, the principal of Surgeon A. McDonald’s High School in Upper Tantalon, Nova Scotia announced that the school would be renamed to reflect inclusiveness, especially for indigenous students.

In terms of statues, McDonald’s statues were removed from outside Victoria’s Town Hall in 2018 as part of the city’s program for reconciliation with local indigenous peoples. In the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest, a new call was made to remove the statue in honor of McDonald’s. On August 29, 2020, after repeated destruction, the statue of McDonald’s in downtown Montreal was demolished by activists.

Geese Brecht is worried whether the trend will stop at building statues and names, or whether “other symbols” of Canadian history will also be subject to removal.

“I think they’ll be chasing something else pretty soon,” he said. “It seems a little depressing.”