Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says it’s wrong to cancel and erase the legacy of historical figures like Sir John A. Macdonald.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Kenney warned against attacking historic figures for positions inconsistent with today’s standards.
“I think Canada is worth celebrating. I think Canada is a great historical achievement. It is a country that people all around the world seek to join as new Canadians. It is an imperfect country but it is still a great country, just as John Macdonald was an imperfect man, but was still a great leader,” he said.
“So if we go full-force into cancel culture, then we’re cancelling most if not all of our history. Instead, I think we should learn from our history. We should learn from our achievements but also our failures.”
A wave of anger has been directed at several historical figures after investigators say 215 human remains are buried at the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The results are preliminary and the company conducting the investigation plans to release a report this month.
The question to Kenney was prompted by the Calgary Board of Education decision on Tuesday to rename Langevin High School. Hector-Louis Langevin, a Father of Confederation and cabinet minister, is considered one of the architects of the residential school system.
On Monday evening, Charlottetown, PEI’s City Council voted to remove its statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, just weeks after voting to keep it where it was.
Kenney says that no figure in Canadian history is perfect, noting that other great figures in Canadian history such as Tommy Douglas and members of the Famous Five advocated for eugenics and are not being attacked.
Kenney went on to say that trying to erase Canadian history would not serve the interestst of reconciliation, adding it would be better to recognize historical wrongs and address them.
“I really think it’s inappropriate to focus on one or two figures if we want to get into a debate about cancelling Canadian history. We need to understand that it means all of our history, and I think that kind of destructive spirit is not really the spirit of reconciliation,” he said.
“The spirit of reconciliation is to learn from the wrongs of the past, to seek to remedy them, while knowing our history and moving forward together.”
“The greatness of Canada is that we have overcome those things.”