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— CPAC (@CPAC) 1598888601.0
The prime minister said that acts of "vandalism" such as what Montreal witnessed on the weekend "[do] not help anyone" advance their cause.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle commented on the toppling of the controversial statue.
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said that "Canada would not exist without Sir John A. Macdonald. We will not build a better future by defacing our past."
Canada wouldn't exist without Sir John A. Macdonald. Canada is a great county, and one we should be proud of. We wi… https://t.co/aEAbTnrxNG— Erin O'Toole (@Erin O'Toole) 1598734095.0
Even NDP leader Jagmeet Singh echoed the sentiment that taking down the statue was a bad move and "doesn't erase him from history"
Sir John A. Macdonald was the first PM of Canada but he was also a key figure in the attempt to brutally wipe out I… https://t.co/wDTDXbE5Cm— Jagmeet Singh (@Jagmeet Singh) 1598821401.0
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.