Sir John A. toppled in Montreal

Once again, people with an incomplete and incorrect knowledge of history have taken to vandalizing a statue of Canada’s first prime minister. This time it wasn’t just paint, they toppled it.

It happened in downtown Montreal at the end of a so-called “Defund the Police” march on Saturday afternoon.

As we learn from the Canadian Press report on the story, police were on the scene but didn’t do anything.

Jean-Pierre Brabant said police were on hand but did not intervene other than to ask the crowd to disperse on a loudspeaker.

No arrests were made.

Brabant is a media officer for the Montreal police. When he says police were on hand, he isn’t kidding. Activist Jaggi Singh, a long time radical arrested more times than I can count, tweeted out photos of the toppling and of the police on hand.

I’ve watched and been on the receiving end of Montreal’s riot squad. They don’t normally stand by and watch so something is up.

Were they told not to act? Did political instructions come from on high?

As for the reasons for dumping the statue, well, we are told that Macdonald was a horrible racist. That he was the man behind the residential school system.

The truth of course is much more complicated that that.

History is complex

Macdonald was not prime minister when the Indian Act passed into law in 1876, that was the work of Canada’s first Liberal PM, Alexander Mackenzie. The Indian Act set the stage for residential schools. Macdonald absolutely played a role in the school system but so did every prime minister from Mackenzie in 1876 until Jean Chretien in 1996.

Yes, the last residential school closed in 1996.

Support for the schools was broadly based. All the top, progressive minds of the day thought this was the best thing to do. We can look and say it was wrong now but at the time there was little opposition to the idea.

As I said, Macdonald was a complicated man. Yet if he was so racist towards “Indians” as they were then called, why did he grant them the vote in 1885?

From the Canadian Encyclopedia:

In 1885, under legislation brought forward by Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, “Status Indians” — as they were known — who met existing requirements were given the right to vote. Yet Macdonald’s intent to extend the vote to all Aboriginal peoples met with strong opposition.

You read that right, Sir John A. extended the right to vote to “Status Indians” who met existing requirements. He wanted to extend the vote further but met resistance.

That right to vote stayed in place until Liberal Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier repealed it.

The politics of it all

I’m mentioning the parties of people involved here because I truly believe that they are picking the statues to remove, the names to be repealed often because the people involved – in this country anyway – have been historically on the conservative side of the aisle.

Despite their horrible, racist policies, there are no calls for Laurier to be removed from the $5 bill, the hotel that bears his name, the Liberal fundraising club named for him. There are no attempts to get rid of William Lyon Mackenzie King despite his outright racist policies while in office.

That’s because the underlying motivation of these defund the police marches, the push to remove statues and street names, is really political.

The involvement of Jaggi Singh should tell you that. Looking at the goals of the organizations involved will tell you more.

It is a wide ranging push for socialism.

Alberta’s newly appointed justice minister, the Nigerian born Kaycee Madu, denounced the actions of the protesters who toppled the statue on Saturday. He called for police to act while also praising the work police do in many many minority communities.

Madu wisely called the people who took down the statue thugs and Marxists, which they are.

Learn from history

Macdonald was not a perfect human being, there are none. You won’t find a perfect human being in the past nor the present.

Yet that doesn’t mean we topple statues of Macdonald and stop honouring what he did accomplish because of his faults. We learn from those faults, we tell the full history, we grow as a society.

That isn’t what the smash mob in Montreal want. They don’t like Canada as it is, they want a radically different country. One that wouldn’t offer the freedom and opportunity for a man like Madu to immigrate to Canada and become the first Black justice minister.

There is only one thing to do after denouncing this horrible act of vandalism.

Put the statue back up.