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The John A. MacDonald Statue’s Vandalism Signals Increased Division in Canadian Society

BY: Giordano Proulx

Amid the various social movements taking place in the United States as well as in Canada, a peculiar set of events occurred as a statement against Canada’s long history of oppression of violence and cultural genocide against the local Indigenous populations native to Canada. 

During the weekend of the 29th and 30th of August, videos began to circulate on social media of the statue of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, being toppled by Canada Place (la Place du Canada) in Montreal. In addition to being pulled to the ground, the statue was also decapitated, its second instance, as the statue was also beheaded in 1992. The statue was toppled when a march for the defunding of the police culminated in a rally in the park in the heart of downtown. 

Although the individuals responsible for toppling the statue did not affiliate with any specific group, the Coalition for BIPOC Liberation which organized the march, seemingly supported the actions of these individuals, posting on Facebook “These racist monuments don’t deserve space.” In the post, the coalition also demands that all statues, plaques, and other pieces commemorative individuals involved in racism or slavery be taken down.

Public reactions seem to be quite mixed in response to such events, with many praising these people for their work, while others disapproved of the actions stating that vandalism is not the answer to one’s discontent.

In addition to these reactions, a slew of politicians has come out expressing their frustration with the situation. Montreal’s mayor Valérie Plante in a post on Instagram stated “I strongly condemn the acts of vandalism that took place this afternoon in downtown Montreal, which led to the John A. Macdonald statue being torn down. Such gestures cannot be accepted or tolerated.”

On a similar note, Quebec Premier François Legault commented: 

“Whatever one might think of John A. Macdonald, destroying a monument in this way is unacceptable. We must fight racism, but destroying parts of our history is not the solution. Vandalism has no place in our democracy and the statue must be restored.

Jason Kenney, Alberta’s Premier also condemned the protesters all while adding that if it were truly unwelcome in Montreal, his province would gladly erect it “on the grounds of Alberta’s Legislature.” Finally, Canada’s Prime Minister also commented on the matter condemning the vandalism and urging people to abide by the law.

All in all, the situation simply highlights the division among Canadians of all ages, as some individuals result in increasingly dire and violent strategies to achieve the results they desire, while others continue to abide by the law and hope to enact legitimate change through official means instead. 


*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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