PULSE OF THE NATION – Removal of John A. from schools firmly opposed

Sir John A. Macdonald.


A call from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario to remove the name of Canada’s first prime minister from public schools because of his support for Indigenous assimilation through residential education is being met with more than twice as much opposition as support.

The latest survey from the Angus Reid Institute finds more than half of Canadians (55%) say they would oppose such a move, while one-quarter (25%) are in favour.  A significant segment – nearly one-in-five (19%) could not offer an opinion.

Most say a person’s entire life & principal legacy should determine if they’re publicly memorialized

This comes against the backdrop of tensions over the legacy, role and place of historical monuments south of the border. As protests and counter-protests over Confederate statues in the U.S. have turned violent, attention in this country has turned to Canada’s own memorialization of historical figures.

In recent times, concerns about the contributions of some of Canada’s founders to the establishment of residential schools and the abuse of Indigenous people have led to the renaming of bridges and buildings and the removal of statues across the country.

However, these survey results show that the vast majority of Canadians (88%) are of the view that a person’s entire life and principal legacy that should determine which historical figures ought to be – or ought to continue to be – memorialized.

Key Findings:

  • Opposition to removing John A. MacDonald differs along political lines. Past Conservative voters are almost twice as likely as past New Democratic Party voters to oppose removal (76% versus 41%). Past Liberals occupy the middle ground: 56 per cent oppose removing the name of Canada’s first prime minister from schools. MacDonald, it should be noted, was a Conservative PM
  • Canadians are much more divided over the renaming of the Langevin Block building in Ottawa, and the proposed removal of a statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax.
  • Seven-in-ten (69%) say historical figures should not be judged by modern concepts of racism. The same number say that statues of historical figures such as Cornwallis would be better placed in museums to be discussed with proper context

Link to the poll here:

About Mel Rothenburger (7457 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on PULSE OF THE NATION – Removal of John A. from schools firmly opposed

  1. Cindy Ross Friedman // August 30, 2017 at 8:37 AM // Reply

    John A. MacDonald was a racist and the architect of the genocidal residential school system. Keep the name and the statues, then, but be sure to add this fact to any citation, brochure, or commemorative plaque.

    • Mel Rothenburger // August 30, 2017 at 3:45 PM // Reply

      Please define “architect.” How many architects were there? Langevin has been called the same thing.

      • Cindy Ross Friedman // August 30, 2017 at 11:10 PM //

        Ah; fair point. I suppose I almoat mean something greater, maybe more appalling: an architect, titular head, or “main man” for the purpose of “de-indigenizing”, or to be crass “taking the Indian out of Indians”. But you know what? I am I over my head in this one. All I know is personal shame in the thought of “John A. as founder” without “John A. as racist.”

        So if anyone who can comment from their real perspective, I will support you. I can fight on your behalf, and will do eo at every opportunity, but it is your truth to tell, not mine.


  2. Sir John A MacDonald along with the Fathers of Confederation, peacefully brought together several colonies and two distinct religions and two languages to form Canada. It was different time in our history but the country we enjoy today is result of their efforts. The fact that Canada was a peaceful union is tribute to our forefathers.

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