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Sir John statue defaced for second time this week in Picton

Prince Edward OPP are investigating multiple instances of mischief to the Sir John A Macdonald statue downtown Picton – the most recent early on Canada Day where it was splashed with red paint.

Sir John’s hands were painted red Monday, June 30, and cleaned by County staff.

Sir John statues and other historical monuments are being defaced across the nation in protest of ties to historical racist connections – in Macdonald’s case, citing his role in the residential school system.

Meanwhile, the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee is beginning consultations on the future of the statue tomorrow morning. Terms of reference for the working group are to be established at the meeting.

The bronze portrait of Canada’s first prime minister was unveiled July 1, 2015 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth. The bronze portrait by Ruth Abernethy depicts the nineteen-year-old Macdonald presenting his first case to a judge and jury in October 8, 1834 in the new the courthouse in Picton. He won that trial as a student of law and a few months later passed his Attorney Examination at the Law Society of Upper Canada. That marked the beginning of a 56-year career in law and politics.

“Statues are powerful symbols that can evoke a range of emotions for different people,” said Heritage Advisory Committee Chair Ken Dewar. “Determining the future of the statue in our community will not be an easy conversation, especially given the complex legacy of Canada’s first prime minister. However, I believe we can have a constructive deliberation that respects all viewpoints.”

Witnesses, or people with information, are asked to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122, or Crime Stoppers.

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  1. Matt says:

    Just a bold idea here, but what about doing something bold and leave the statue where it is but paint his hands red permanently?

    It would both show that he is an important figure, but also represents our willingness to acknowledge our full history. The plaque could be updated to provide context for why his hands are painted, showing tourists and each other that we are mature enough to accept the negative parts of our history and identity.

    In various German cities, there are art installations and signs around the cities that acknowledge the atrocities of the holocaust. It has been part of their national strategy to address their past.

    We teach our children that in order to solve problems or heal hurt relationships we need to take the first step and admit there is actually a problem. We should be able to do the same here. There can be a compromise.

  2. Keith says:

    History is not there to be liked, disliked, sanitized or rewritten. It is there to be learned from.

  3. Mary says:

    I say yes John A should stand but let him stand in the courthouse in Picton where he first started as a young lawyer. He will be a reminder but safe from these really mindless and unthinking vandals!
    Let us remember our past and strive to be a better society. He was a good man who built our nation, some flaws yes, but we are a beautiful country because of him!

  4. Susan says:

    I agree that the statue should remain. But I also agree with Barbara above that there needs to be a sign with both sides, or some acknowledgment of MacDonald role in residential schools and treatment of the indigenous people in general. He did live in a completely different time and his is not the only government that supported residential schools etc. But the vandalism is going a little too far. I understand that people are getting very frustrated that nothing seems to be done to correct the injustices of the past, or it is all moving way too slowly. And they have a right to bring this to our attention. I just don’t agree with the method!

  5. Angela says:

    The statue should stay. Where were all of those who oppose it so eloquently today when the Macdonald project was underway? Canada Day 2015 saw hundreds of people gather to see the unveiling of the statue. It was a proud day. Where were the statue’s opponents then? What next will they oppose? The Cenotaph perhaps because it glorifies war?

  6. olmnonthemtn says:

    On Iconoclasm/vandalism:
    “Behind any campaign is the campaigner: the activist convinced of his own righteousness. The political activist reserves to himself the right to retrospectively edit our history for his satisfaction by removing monuments, those fixtures of civic life, embedded in the memories of generations. The activist often knows almost nothing about the object of his hatred—merely a garbled caricature of a person caught up in the conditions of her age—but the activist acts as if he were not also caught up in the conditions of his own age.

    Iconoclasm is an expression of domination and a demonstration of willingness to act—illegally and unethically—to impose the will of one group over an entire population. It asserts control over all aspects of society. It sets a challenge that will elicit a strong reaction. Iconoclasm is a warning that the protection of law and social conventions no longer applies and that the cause will be promoted through physical force if necessary.

    The campaigner argues that public art, accumulated piecemeal over 1,000 years of history, must reflect our society and values today—even if that means altering or erasing stories of the values our past society expressed via its monuments, or suppressing evidence of how we arrived at our current situation. The left-wing activist wants to celebrate current-day multiculturalism, but mostly he wants to erase evidence of the historic monoculturalism that preceded it.”
    From Alexander Adams Iconoclasm and the Erasing of History Areo magazine April 2019

  7. Todd says:

    Sir John A united Canada and is arguably one of the most important figures in Canadian history. Canada is Canada because of him. There is not one single person on this planet that is perfect. Yes, There were casualties, and our first PM was not perfect and his imperfections should not be hidden. But what are we doing? Removing a tribute to the man who created Canada? Really?? Is this what our society has become? Last time I checked Marxists,the Taliban and Al Qaeda tear down and deface statues. Are we not mature enough to have discussions anymore? Can we please stop being offended by everything we don’t like. The correct response is to say that Sir John did some great things, in a very different time. And he also did some things that are very wrong. That is the mature way to handle statues. Lets stop acting like ill behaved children and kick and scream when we don’t get exactly what we want or see something we don’t like. Sir John should stay exactly where he is. Signed…Sincerely, A “younger generation” person

  8. ADJ says:

    Move it to a building for display and even then distant it from the close up viewer. Possibly enclose it with a plexi-glass cover. There’s enough pics of the old chief around to satisfy everyone. I do agree with a posted version of his history both the good and bad. To leave it where it is could result in more destruction, maybe a decapitation or a dragging behind a vehicle up main street.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    If nothing else comes from these acts, then they should send the message to both the municipality and to the the Heritage Committee that doing nothing is not an option – and neither is calling the OPP. Call the police, spend more money on security cameras, incarcerate the villains for the destruction of a political statue. I don’t think that would solve anything.

    Instead, we need to deal with the real issues of discrimination and political lethargy towards racial problems in this country – then acts of vandalism will become things of the past. The younger generation are telling us clearly – doing nothing is not an option. Instead of calling the police, we need to start listening and preparing to act positively – by moving the statue and telling the true history of John A..

  10. Bayside says:

    @ Henri Garand: Hear, hear! You have described perfectly the mob rule we are witnessing: its strident “woke” cultural diktats and their resulting “cancelled” response. This is the end result of Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions”- a puritanical, vociferous minority attempting to re-write history.

  11. Barbara Wallace says:

    Totally agree with you Henri. Perhaps put up a sign that has both sides of his history.

  12. Henri Garand says:

    With the recent vandalism the Macdonald statue has become tied, for me, to Picton’s heritage, the function of public art, democratic processes, and the rule of law. Vandals must not be given a greater influence than the general citizenry in council’s decision making on the fate of the statue. We should not abandon a public consultation process because the statue is divisive and some person or persons are trying to subvert it. At this point, to speak frankly, moving the statue would be a pusillanimous surrender.

    Instead, council should set up security cameras and establish a special fund for further statue maintenance. I would gladly contribute to the cost rather than submit to lawless ruffians who hide their identity.

  13. Angela says:

    And we are supposed to respect the opinions of the people who would do something like this? This is not the way to right the wrongs of the past. This is vandalism of the worst kind – mindless destruction supposedly in the name of justice. Hopefully the culprits will be found and exposed for the cowards that they are.

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