The next Ontario government will decide the fate of the hidden statue of Sir John A. Macdonald

The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald at the foot of Queen’s Park has been covered for almost two years.

It was first introduced in 1894 and created by Hamilton MacCarthy to commemorate Canada’s first prime minister, according to the Ontario Legislature’s website.

The statue was damaged in the summer of 2020 during Toronto protests that targeted controversial figures from Canada’s colonial past. Repairs were made to the statue in 2020 and 2021, and it has been covered with a tall rectangular box since it was first damaged.

High up on University Avenue, against the backdrop of Queen’s Park, the box stands out. Next to him is a note explaining that a decision has not yet been made about his future, while a trail of children’s shoes in front of him references the tragedy of residential schools in Canada.

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“He continues to be covered until a decision can be made about his future,” a spokesperson for the Ontario Legislature told Global News.

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Macdonald, along with Egerton Ryerson, allegedly the architect of Canada’s residential school system, has removed his name and likeness from across the country.

In April, a school in Brampton joined a growing list of institutions that dropped the former prime minister’s name to replace it with an indigenous reference.

The Peel District School Board, which made the decision, said it had consulted with Mississaugas of the Credit, Credit River Metis, the Peel Employees Indian Network, the Indian Network and the Credit River Metis Council before changing the name. from school.

In Kingston and Waterloo, the respective school boards of both cities moved to change the names of the educational institutions associated with Macdonald.

The decision on how to proceed with the Queen’s Park statue, and whether it ever comes out of its box, will be made by the next Ontario provincial government.

“Any decision regarding the statute rests with the president of the legislature, in consultation with the minister of Government and Consumer Services (this ministry holds the statute) and the elected members (whom the president represents),” said the spokesman for the legislature.

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“In the meantime, no change to the status of the monument is planned.”

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It’s unclear exactly what Ontario’s main parties intend to do with the statue, displayed on a pedestal in the heart of Ontario’s democracy.

The Greens, NDP and Ontario Liberals sent Global News details on how they would proceed with the statue, while the PC Party disagreed with the legislature’s characterization that the decision rests with the speaker, the Government Minister. and Consumer Service, as well as in ordinary MPPs.

“The legislative chamber is managed by the speaker and therefore the decision rests with the speaker,” said a spokesperson for the PC campaign.

In response to follow-up questions referring to the Ontario Legislature’s explanation, the spokesperson repeated his response. “The decision rests with the speaker,” they said.

The Speaker of the Legislature is traditionally an MPP appointed by the ruling party. From 2018 to 2022, the speaker was PC MPP Ted Arnott.

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The Ontario Liberals said “our public monuments should be more reflective of the province and its people” and vowed to work with the speaker, MPPs and the community to make changes, including adding new statues in Queen’s Park, if elected.

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The NDP promised to create a commission to make “binding recommendations on the display of historic figures and symbols in Ontario government-owned buildings and public spaces.” The commission would be led by an indigenous representative, the party said.

“Ontario Greens believes that statues of historical figures with racist legacies should be removed from public spaces, as these figures do not represent our collective contemporary society,” a party spokesperson said.

The decision whether or not to display the statue, covered for nearly two years, will rest with the party that forms the government and chooses the province’s president and Minister of Government and Consumer Services after Ontario’s next election.

Ontario will go to the polls on June 2.

— With Ahmar Khan Archives

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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