Statue of Canada's first Prime Minister toppled by protesters in Montreal

A statue of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was toppled in Montreal on August 29 as a protest calling for a reduction in police funding was drawing to a close.

The statue of Macdonald, who many Canadians view as the country’s founder, was erected in 1895 but had been vandalized several times in recent months following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police. Critics of Macdonald branded him a racist and a white supremacist, pointing to his treatment of indigenous peoples, CTV News reported.

In 1887, Macdonald said of the Indian Act: “The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condemned the incident in Quebec. “This vandalism of our history and heroes must stop,” he tweeted. “[Macdonald] was an immigrant who suffered unimaginable personal trauma throughout his life, which he overcame to forge an enormous country out of divided factions. It’s right to debate his legacy and life. But it is wrong to allow roving bands of thugs to vandalize our history with impunity.”

He added that if the City of Montreal would not restore the statue, his government “would be happy to receive it for installation on the grounds of Alberta’s Legislature.”

Marches to “defund the police” were scheduled in several Canadian cities the same day, including in Toronto, Halifax, and Calgary, and were organized by a coalition of activist groups for Black and Indigenous rights.

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