Sunday, August 25, 2019

The statue controversy... in 1893

The controversy over statues of John A. Macdonald goes back farther than I realized.  This is Peter Mitchell, a long serving New Brunswick politician and confederation-maker. Mitchell had served in Macdonald's first Canadian cabinet but later ceased to trust him and sat as an independent in Parliament. He was writing in 1893 to a businessman who had profited mightily under Macdonald's National Policy.
Now, in conclusion, my dear Mr. Gault, I would like to ask you whether you think the memory of such a character is of such a nature as justifies you and your friends for erecting statues to his memory? Of course it is your right and your friends' to do with your money as you like; but do you believe that you are doing justice to the rising generations of Canada, when fathers and mothers are leading their children past these statues which are to be erected in the cities and parks of Canada, they will, probably in ignorance of the true character of the man, point out to those children that Sir John Macdonald is a man whose conduct should be emulated and whose reputation and character is one to admire? If you do, I certainly do not.
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