Some say debate over John A. Macdonald statue too brief, others say it was appropriate


WATCH: Some say the debate over whether the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald at Victoria City Hall should be taken away was too brief, but others say it was appropriate. 

Victoria City Councillor Pam Madoff voted in favour of the Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue’s removal this past weekend but says the process was too quick and created divisions in the community.

“Rather than trying to build a bridge between a tradition and a practice, I think, in some people’s minds, we’ve simply created another barrier,” Madoff said.

She says city council received a report from the City Family, a group created by the municipality last year to address issues of reconciliation, last Tuesday.

Councillors debated the removal on Thursday and crews took the statue away on Saturday.

Madoff says she’s concerned they still haven’t decided what to do with the statue yet and that she would have preferred to make both decisions at the same time.

“There are some people, certainly from the emails I’m getting, who don’t believe in reconciliation and those kinds of things and I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to satisfy those concerns, but there are people who do who had difficulty with this process and I think that’s a sign of how we failed,” she said.

But advocates disagree.

Reuben Rose-Redwood, a member of the Indigenous Solidarity Working Group, says the route taken has been positive for creating discussion and promoting education.

“We often don’t talk about history until a statue is removed [or] a street is renamed,” Rose-Redwood said. “That, in some ways, is how we learn more about our history.”

In an email, councillor Marianne Alto, a member of the City Family, previously told CHEK News that the process was chosen to reflect Lekwungen tradition.

“The city is making every effort not to force the program into a conventional corporate box,” Alto wrote.

Rose-Redwood says the statue’s removal now opens the doors for further progress on reconciliation.

“I think that if they had prolonged the process of debating whether or not to remove the statue, things would’ve probably even gotten more divisive,” he said. “And so I think [the] swift action was a necessary step in this particular case.”

Regardless of opinion, experts say discussions of this sort are not going away, and ultimately lead to an improved society.

“We’re going to see more of this going forward,” said Royal Roads political communications professor David Black. “And I think the debates we have, as painful and as fraught as they are about our history… [they’re] a product of our greater historical consciousness, of our greater enlightenment as a society, about who we are, where we came from, and what it took it get here.”

The City Family plans to reconvene in the coming weeks.


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