John A. Macdonald
Sculptor John Dann (left, in sweater) helps place the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald outside Victoria City Hall in 1982. (John MacKay / Times Colonist)

The potential removal of Victoria City Hall’s statue of Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald have sparked online debate.

“A lot of what [Macdonald] did is not something we should be proud of,” local activist Torrance Coste told CHEK News. “To present it out of context like a statue and something we’re celebrating, it isn’t a way to build that understanding.”

CHEK reported that Victoria City Council has discussed the statue’s potential removal, but a formal motion has yet to be introduced.

The Facebook post regarding the issue has garnered plenty of reactions. Comments range from lamenting “political correctness” to pointing out the atrocities committed during colonization.

If Not Removal, Then Addition?

But the issue of removing the statue might not be black and white.

Given that the statue’s plaque says nothing more than Macdonald’s name, his dates of birth and death, and that he was Canada’s first Prime Minister, there could be room to add historical context, a view was shared by Coste and several commenters.

“While it’s important to recognize the roles of historical politicians, we also have to remember the full context of those figures,” Coste said.

“Could we expand his plaque instead of removing the statue?” wrote Robin Gagné. “Should we respect his role in forming Canada? Or, simply focus on the atrocities of the time? Can we put him in the context of history, or simply remove him from it?”

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