On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted to the toppling of Montreal's Sir John A. Macdonald statue, denouncing what he called "acts of vandalism." On August 29, protesters in Montreal took down the statue of Canada's first prime minister after a rally that called for the defunding of the SPVM. While the prime minister said that he understands the struggle against systemic racism, he doesn't believe that toppling statues moves the conversation forward.
"I was deeply disappointed by the vandalism that took place over the weekend," said Trudeau.
"I understand the impatience and frustration of Canadians who faced systemic discrimination and racism throughout their lives. [...] I myself am impatient — we need to move forward quickly and in the right way.
"But, we are a country of laws and we are a country that needs to respect those laws. [...] Those kinds of acts of vandalism are not advancing the path towards greater justice and equality in this country."
The prime minister's feelings were reflected in a statement made by Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante after the statue was torn down.
Mayor Plante said that the city "will take the time to analyze the next steps to be taken."
"People [...] are trying to use these elements as a way of furthering debate. I'm more interested in using the real frustrations that people have as motivations to continue to make the big changes necessary," said Trudeau.
"Our focus needs to be on how we improve things today and for the days to come."
PM Trudeau, asked re toppling of John A. Macdonald statue in Montreal, says he understands impatience, frustration… https://t.co/2lAqiR6kF3
Many anti-Macdonald opinions, however, point to the fact that Canada's first prime minister was responsible for the country's residential school system and for systematically starving Indigenous people.
Even more say that Canada shouldn't be glorifying a man with such a bloody history.
The debate over monuments to problematic individuals seems set to rage on.