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Protesters Topple Statue Of Canada’s First Prime Minister In Montreal

Protesters Topple Statue Of Canada’s First Prime Minister In Montreal
A group of protesters in Montreal ripped down and decapitated a bronze statue of John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, on Saturday, prompting condemnation from the city’s mayor, who pledged to replace it.
Video posted to Twitter depicted a mob toppling Macdonald’s image, the head of which flew off as it crashed to the ground, eliciting cheers from the crowd as a protester tried unsuccessfully to lift it. Crews removed the ruined statue on Sun
In a statement, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said in part, “I strongly deplore the acts of vandalism that took place this afternoon in downtown Montreal.”
“I understand and share the motivation of citizens who want to live in a more just and inclusive society. But the discussion and the necessary actions must be carried out peacefully, without ever resorting to vandalism,” she continued, adding, “The public art office will secure the perimeter and coordinate the conservation of the statue.”
Statues of Macdonald have been a targeted for removal for months, based on charges of racism against the man who helped stabilize the British colony’s faction-ridden political system and lead to its establishment as a nation in 1867. Macdonald served 19 years as the nation’s first prime minister, and died in 1891 while still in office.
According to the BBC, a 2015 Canadian government report described the residential school system implemented under Macdonald as “cultural genocide” because it forcibly removed indigenous children from their families and placed them in state-funded boarding schools, where some of them were abused and died.
The statue’s removal was organized by a group that is also calling for defunding the police, according to a flyer obtained by Global News.
“Today, inspired by a summer of rebellion and anti-racist protest, a diverse coalition of young activists take it upon themselves to act where the city has failed,” the flyer read. “We offer this action in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of Tio’tia:ke, Turtle Island and across the globe, and all those fighting against colonialism and anti-Blackness in the struggle for a better world.”
An indigenous educator named Omeasoo Wāhpāsiw lauded the vandalism, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). “It makes such a strong statement about how the protesters feel about what Canada is currently structured on, and what changes need to be made, and how we need to reassess our history,” she said.
CBC continued:
Wāhpāsiw disputes the idea that colonial pressures have ended, which is why she argues in favour of dismantling and challenging the legacy on which the nation is fundamentally built.
“There are people in Canada who continue to be marginalized and that is part — almost entirely — due to the fact that capitalism is a system that oppresses people and in order to succeed, many people have to suffer and often those are people who are Indigenous, Black and people of colour,” she said.
Wāhpāsiw supports what she calls protesters vandalizing the statues in a way that maintains the historical figure while acknowledging and expressing critical perspectives on its history.
“It reminds us that, no, we’re not happy with it and we’d like to change it.”
By contrast, Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney came out forcefully against the statue’s destruction in a four-tweet thread on Twitter, saying in part, “This vandalism of our history and heroes must stop. As his biographer Richard Gwyn wrote, ‘no Macdonald, no Canada.’ Both Macdonald & the country he created were flawed but still great.”
Kenney noted that many of the leftists who are denouncing Canada as “a failed state” nevertheless benefit from the country’s “rights, freedoms, privileges & prosperity.”
“None of those things were created by accident,” Kenney continued. “They come from the vision & sacrifice of those who went before us, particularly Macdonald himself. He was an immigrant who suffered unimaginable personal trauma throughout his life, which he overcame to forge an enormous country out of divided factions. It’s right to debate his legacy and life. But it is wrong to allow roving bands of thugs to vandalize our history with impunity.”
Kenney concluded by saying that he would welcome a replacement of the Macdonald statue at the Alberta Legislature if the mayor of Montreal did not restore it.
According to Global News, Kenney also appeared on a radio show to explain, “These are basically people that [have] Marxist, extreme-left political ideology, who believe in using violence. And that’s what it was. It was violence against public property, against a symbol of Canada.”
“Why were the police standing by watching the statue get torn down? One of the principles of the country that John Macdonald helped to found was the principle of the rule of law, and that was violated … by violent anarchists who hate this country,” Kenney added.
During the statue’s dedication ceremony in 1895, four years after Macdonald’s death, a speaker extolled Macdonald for his impact on those who knew him:
He was, in many respects, an ideal nature. They said he had personal magnetism, which was but a cold way of saying that those who knew him, loved him. His handshake was a passport to friendship, and his friendship, when gained, was as lasting as iron. Absolute fidelity was one of his traits — fidelity to friends, fidelity to country, fidelity to Queen. He was not a hypocrite; he was a man, with a man’s appreciation of the temptations and the weaknesses of men.
But why analyse a character that proved its own worth daily by the sure way in which it won the affection and confidence of men! Of his talents as a tactician, of his abilities as a leader, of his length and breadth of vision as a statesman, the achievements of his life speak with sufficient emphasis. He has proven his possession of so many qualities, that his most familiar biographer can have little new to tell.
But this is an occasion to remember rather of his kindnesses; his loyalty to his friends; the things that he did, not for personal glory, nor even to serve the nation or the empire, but simply to help a fellow traveller on the rugged path of life. His hand was always busy with such deeds of pure friendship. He was loyal; he was patriotic; he was broad-minded; he was a national optimist; he was human-hearted; he was great.John A. Macdonald Statue

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