Conrad Black: There's much to celebrate in Sir John A. Macdonald's legacy


The heroes of the month among Canada’s elected officials must be the councillors of Prince Edward County, Ont., who voted last week to retain the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald on the main street of Picton. There was the now customary agitation to remove the statue because of Macdonald’s allegedly oppressive conduct toward the Native people. Coun. Philip St. Jean led the retention argument, stating that the statue in such a prominent location fosters education and curiosity about the history of the country. One of the interveners at the public hearing that determined the issue has two Cree daughters and said that the statue is “a symbol of colonialism, patriarchy and white supremacy. Taking down a statue because we are recognizing the truth of the impact this man and his policies had, and has on Indigenous people, has a feeling of reconciliation to me. But to be clear, it is only a baby step towards true reconciliation; it is a gesture.”

This encapsulates the current self-induced national moral weakness: nativist advocates think that removing an effigy of the founder of our country and someone who was regarded by his peers in the time of Lincoln, Palmerston, Disraeli, Gladstone and Bismarck as a great statesman is required because of largely unspecified offences in one policy area of his 28 years as head of Canada’s government (the so-called United Province of Canada, and then the Dominion of Canada), and even that would be a mere “gesture.” “Reconciliation” evidently consists of abject self-humiliation by the 95 per cent of Canadians who are not descended from the Indigenous peoples, and we have become so quaveringly enfeebled, we are expected to submit to this. […]

The Prince Edward County intervener’s claim that Macdonald represented “colonialism patriarchy, and white supremacy” was an outrage. Macdonald ended Canada’s colonial status and was the benign and democratically elevated patriarch of the country he chiefly founded, including all of its races and ethnicities. Whites were 98 per cent of Canadians at that time but in the intervening years Canada has welcomed others with open arms and in great numbers. The Natives of Canada have many legitimate grievances that have to be addressed generously and without condescension. But they might occasionally remember the many advances the colonists brought with them, to what was essentially a stone age society, and the great, peaceful country that has evolved since. My friend Prof. Joe Martin (Rotman School of Business, U of T), and I spoke at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., two years ago opposing the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s name from the law faculty of that university. Macdonald represented Kingston as a legislator for 47 years. It has now been removed and the cowards responsible should be ashamed of themselves and not of the greatly distinguished founder of our country.
Conrad Black

This is one of the biggest problems that energized activists face: a shocking lack of knowledge.

If there are genuine grievances related to the prominent display of a historical figure, then people absolutely have the right to present their case and have it discussed. What I see with a lot of the activists, however, is a case based more on hearsay and raw emotion than carefully considered rational thought. By not presenting their case as an adult, there is little reason for people to take the issue seriously. In the case of Sir John A. Macdonald, the founder of Canada, there is a lot more good that he did than not, even by today’s moral standards.

People really need to learn about history and look at people and events contextually before demanding names be struck from buildings and statues topples and beheaded 😑