The statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is shown torn down following a demonstration in Montreal, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, where they protested to defund the police with a goal to end all systemic racism within all sectors of the Canadian government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is shown torn down following a demonstration in Montreal, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, where they protested to defund the police with a goal to end all systemic racism within all sectors of the Canadian government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Trudeau calls out vandals who toppled Montreal’s Macdonald statue

Statue had been vandalized in the past by critics who cite Macdonald’s role in establishing the residential school system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he’s “profoundly disappointed” in the vandals who toppled and defaced a Montreal statue of the first prime minister of Canada, as Quebec’s premier promised the monument would be restored.

Trudeau told reporters in Montreal he understands the impatience of Canadians who want to see more action on racism and systemic discrimination, but said the vandalism that occurred over the weekend is not an acceptable way to express those views.

“We are a country of laws and we as a country need to respect those laws even as we seek to improve and change them,” he said. “Those kinds of acts of vandalism are not advancing the path towards greater justice and equality in this country.”

Montreal police said the vandals threw a rope around the sculpture of John A. Macdonald and sent it crashing to the ground, causing its head to roll off.

Police had originally said the vandals had unbolted the statue, but spokesman Jean-Pierre Brabant said Monday that their investigation revealed the statue had not been bolted to the pedestal. It was toppled and sprayed with graffiti at the end of a protest demanding cities cut police budgets.

The statue had repeatedly been vandalized in the past by critics who cite Macdonald’s role in establishing the residential school system, as well as his racist comments about Indigenous peoples.

The towering bronze-and-granite statue, which was created by British artist George Edward Wade and erected in 1895, is among the most “imposing and elaborate” monuments to Canada’s first prime minister, according to the city’s website.

Trudeau said Canadian society has work to do in combating systemic discrimination, and should debate the actions of past leaders and the future of monuments honouring them.

“He was our first prime minister and we have to recognize his role in the creation of the country and the world we live in, but we have to recognize where there were statements, perspectives or acts that were unacceptable,” Trudeau said.

But he said the decision on how to move forward needs to be made collectively, and not by a small group acting illegally.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault also condemned the vandalism Monday, telling reporters the statue would be repaired and put back.

“Of course, we need to fight against racism, but that’s not the way to do it,” Legault said. ”We have to respect the history.”

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has said the city’s public art department will oversee the restoration of the sculpture.

Brabant said no arrests have been made, but police were checking video footage in the hopes of identifying the perpetrators.

He said while police were on the scene when the statue was toppled, they did not intervene. “Because it was done as quickly as it was, we were able to react to the mischief but not prevent the mischief,” he said in a phone interview.

Brabant said the officers were unable to catch the perpetrators, who disappeared into the crowd of demonstrators leaving the protest.

The vandals, if found, could be charged with mischief, he said.

READ MORE: Protesters in Montreal topple John A. Macdonald statue, demand police defunding

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Justin TrudeauRacial injustice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Wolf photo by Brian Hay
2020 hunting season review and wildlife update: Part III

This is Part III of a three-part series by F.J. Hurtak, looking at the issues of the 2020 hunting and wildlife management season

1914
It happened this week in 1914

Jan. 10 - 16: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Piling in place along Innis Avenue in Cranbrook, part of the new Broadstreet Properties development. David Humphrey photo
Innis Avenue to close to all traffic starting January 18

Avenue facing new development will be closed from Monday, Jan. 18 to Thursday, Jan. 21, for sewer connection

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read