‘We are just not taking the right steps forward’: Critics weigh in on moving of John A. Macdonald statue

EDMONTON — Reaction is pouring in after Premier Jason Kenney proposed transporting the toppled statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal to the legislature grounds in Alberta.

The statue was spray painted and pulled from its pedestal on Saturday by a group of protesters Kenney called “mostly white thugs”.

“If the city of Montreal decides not to restore wades statue of Macdonald to where it has stood for 125 years, we would be happy to receive it for installation on the grounds of Alberta’s legislature,” Kenney tweeted on Saturday.

Macdonald’s record is one that includes starving first nations people in the name of territorial expansion.

One Alberta chief says reconciliation needs to be taken into account before any statue is moved.

“It seems that some of the social aspects of this relationship — which are inherently tougher — we are just not taking the right steps forward,” Billy Morin of the Enoch Cree Nation told CTV News.

An Indigenous leader on the Siksika Nation had harsher words for the Premier and MacDonald.

Reuben Breaker tweeted that “Sir John A. MacDonald set out to kill us (Indigenous People) right from the start…and you want us to consider him a hero?”

Morin said instead of moving a statue from Montreal, he would like to see a monument erected at the Legislature celebrating Treaty Six.

“(That) has to take precedence over the Macdonald statue,” he said.

University of Alberta history professor James Muir understands why the metal monument has repeatedly been a lightning rod for protest, but he doesn’t understand the thought behind the premier wanting to bring it here.

Whether or not statues remain of Macdonald, his legacy will endure.

“The toppling of Macdonald’s statue isn’t going to remove Macdonald from history books,” said Muir.

“Refusing to see the larger issues behind why it was removed, and asserting that those don’t matter, and that seems, sad frankly.”

The premier’s office told CTV News Edmonton that Kenney’s statements about historical monuments and the push to remove them are not new, but declined an interview on the idea of moving the statue to Alberta. 

With files from David Ewasuk and Timm Bruch.

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