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ROTHENBURGER – Where are the police as vandals destroy our monuments?

Headless statue of Sir John A. after being pulled down by vandals.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE MARCH TO REVISE HISTORY continues, with a mob tearing down a statue of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald in Montreal on Saturday. The riff raff cheered as he came down off the pedestal, as his head was dislodged from his body.

The question I have is, where were the police when this was happening? Where have they been at other incidents when public art has been vandalized in the name of racial justice?

Where was Justin Trudeau?

I hate to say it, but Jason Kenney and Erin O’Toole are bang on when they demand action to make it stop. Kenney says that if Montreal decides not to put the statue up again, he’ll gladly take it off their hands and erect it on the grounds of the Alberta legislature.

He tweeted that both Macdonald and Canada are imperfect but both are great, and there would be no Canada without Macdonald.

O’Toole, a week into his new job as leader of the federal Conservatives, tweeted, “We will not build a better future by defacing our past. It’s time politicians grow a backbone and stand up for our country.”

He’s right. Defacing and vandalizing public property does not qualify as peaceful protest. It isn’t the protesters’ right. The worthiness of public monuments is not their decision to make. There’s nothing righteous about tearing down statues.

They should be hauled off to jail, charged and punished.

Punishment under the law for vandalism can include serious jail time plus fines. If a few such sentences were handed out it would send a message that respectful public discourse, not mob rule, is the way we change things in Canada. The vandalism would stop very quickly.

And, by the way, the answer to the question of where the police were is that they were right there. After watching the vandals do their work, police asked them to leave.

Ironically, the destructive work was done during a protest demanding that police be defunded.

And Trudeau? He has failed to take a clear stand condemning such destruction. By the time you read this he may have released some fuzzy statement but he’s been anything but Johnny on the spot.

And one more thought. Maybe Kamloops should get in on the bidding for the statue. Sir John A. would make a great addition to the Kamloops City Hall grounds.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7857 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

8 Comments on ROTHENBURGER – Where are the police as vandals destroy our monuments?

  1. jean gruneberg // September 12, 2020 at 2:16 PM // Reply

    And in the mean time TransMountain applies to destroy 67 archaeological sites for the pipeline through the Kamloops area. That’s just one 80 km stretch of a 1,150 km route. Crickets from the ‘don’t deface monuments of racists’ crowd

  2. Excellent comments.

  3. A couple of simple points to keep in mind:
    The Prime Minister is not in direct operational charge of the RCMP or City Police, if you want to argue the police response, best direct it directly towards the person or position responsible, in this case that would be Montreal Police Chief Sylvain Caron and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. Haven’t seen those names in the press much regarding why arrests didnt happen.

    They specifically, and the supervisors on the ground, the City that pays for the service and the courts prosecutors has far more responsibility to order arrests and prosecute law breakers like this. Demanding this from a PM is a bunch of huge steps below his pay grade, out of his direct jurisdiction and is literally not in the job description.

    Because of that, high ranking politician public statements condoning activities like this tend to be more about that politician gaining free public exposure at the expense of a situation (see Kenny and O’Toole). I expect Peter Milobar to write an article on this … this week. He never passes on an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon.

    Finally, to the south we have a president that enjoys tear gassing legal protesters in front of photo-op churches, and sending in federal thugs to beat on and kidnap protesters and publicly talk about having the authority to do so. Do we really want that in Canada? Do we really want our PM to impose some sort of martial law and send in the swat team to a park in Montreal with orders to ‘do whatever it takes’ to stop and arrest?

    To suggest Trudeau did not condemn the action is just incorrect, his statement included “Actions such as that have no place in a society that abides by the rule of law,” … I wouldn’t call that too fuzzy.

  4. Ian MacKenzie // August 31, 2020 at 10:20 AM // Reply

    I see these as increasingly unacceptable forms of property crime. The police and the courts should be seriously involved. As for the solution to the problem of every age idolizing well known figure, despite their imperfections, by means of artistic artifacts (in this case statues) we should be using them to teach more national, provincial, or municipal history. We have become such a multicultural country, with growing numbers of migrants who share no knowledge of the figures these statues represent, that we should have monument committees charged with creating explanations on the base of the statues updating their vices and virtues or build monument museums doing the same thing. History should NOT be rewritten through destruction. I would welcome other ideas as to how such historical education could be achieved.
    For those who are only moved by monetary value let me point out that each of those statues costs a great deal of money to create and maintain. But its true value lies in repeating the obvious, that a hero today can be seen as having feet of clay tomorrow. We’re all imperfect.

  5. John Noakes // August 31, 2020 at 6:48 AM // Reply

    Mel, I think that if every person was honest about himself or herself, there would be at least one thing in the past that we would sooner not have made public or have put on a pedestal.
    Maybe a statue in our own city will come to an untimely end. I’d hate to see cenotaphs defaced or destroyed because mob mentality wanted to make a statement.

    Where do you see this going, Mel?

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