Kingston city councillor Jeff McLaren is calling on a statue of Canada’s first prime minister and father of Confederation Sir John A. Macdonald to be erected at his gravesite after a local cemetery turned down plans to host the statue.
Macdonald was a Kingston, Ontario local and was the MP for the riding until 1891.
“Sir John A.’s statue should never have been taken down. Now after an appropriate time of mourning, it is time to put Sir John A.’s statue back up,” wrote McLaren in the Kingston Whig Standard.
“Erasing history is never a good policy. However, it is by adding perspective that we advance history. This requires respect for the truth — especially when it isn’t a truth one likes.”
The statue of Macdonald was removed by the city last year and remained in storage until councillors could decide what was to be done with it.
Last week, the board of Cataraqui Cemetery where Macdonald’s remains rest voted against hosting the statue.
“This update today is the first time staff were made aware that a reconsideration by the board was underway,” said Kingston’s director of heritage services Jennifer Campbell.
“As recently as June 27, staff were in communication with the assigned board representative to co-ordinate the completion of a site survey, as part of confirming the detailed mounting/installation plan.”
In his op-ed, McLaren also called for the former space of the statue to be lent to different groups to display how Macdonald’s legacy impacted them.
“I propose that this former statue space be used to present the perspectives of the different groups who were affected by Macdonald’s legacy. The city should allow each group to commemorate in a culturally suitable fashion,” wrote McLaren.
“In my European heritage, we celebrate great achievement with statues on pedestals — the city should put Sir John A.’s statue back up.
“For First Nations, I understand statues are not culturally significant, so the city should facilitate whatever it finds appropriate if and when it is ready to express how it wishes to commemorate Sir John A,” he continued.