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Montreal's Toppled John A. Macdonald Statue Might Not Make A Comeback After All

A city committee has released a decision... kind of.

Senior Editor
The statue of Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald in downtown Montreal before its toppling in 2020. Right: The canopy where the statue of John A. Macdonald stood before it was brought down in 2020.

The statue of Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald in downtown Montreal before its toppling in 2020. Right: The canopy where the statue of John A. Macdonald stood before it was brought down in 2020.

The future of Montreal's controversial statue of Canadian prime minister John A. Macdonald is still unclear. But maybe a little less unclear than before. A city committee charged with weighing its future published a preliminary decision stating the monument shouldn't simply go back up like it was before antiracism protestors toppled it in 2020.

First erected in 1895, the statue was brought down from its pedestal in the Place du Canada on August 29, 2020. The first prime minister of the Canadian confederation, John A. Macdonald, is credited with the creation of the residential school system for Indigenous children.

Before its dislodgement, it was also a frequent target for anticolonial protestors, who on several occasions covered it in red paint.

In response to the toppling, the City of Montreal convened a committee to put together a recommendation on the statue's fate. The preliminary decision is just one step of that process. The municipal Commission sur la culture, le patrimoine et les sports will hold public hearings before the committee releases a final decision. It will then be up to the Montreal City Council to rule on the future of the statue.

The preliminary decision calls on the city to "exclude the possibility of a complete restoration of the monument," including the "reinstallation of the bronze statue on its base and under the canopy as it was before its removal."

Instead, the committee advocates for the maintenance of the statue base and a "reinterpretation" of the site with a plaque and "physical and virtual markers" recognizing "all of the groups targeted by Macdonald's assimilative and discriminatory policies and the regime he represented." A commemorative event at the site is another possibility.

The public presentation of the committee's preliminary decision will take place in the City Council Chamber in the Montreal City Hall complex's Lucien-Saulnier Building at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7. A question period will follow.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society Emergency Crisis Line is available across Canada 24/7. Those who may need support can call 1-866-925-4419.

    Thomas MacDonald
    Senior Editor
    Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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