Montreal mayoral candidate Coderre wants John A. Macdonald statue re-erected with proper context
Mayoral candidate Denis Coderre's opinion is simple: put the John A. Macdonald statue back in downtown Montreal, but learn from it.
"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it," he said during a news conference on the country's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Coderre wore an orange blazer, mirroring thousands in the city and surrounding regions who donned the colour for Orange Shirt Day to honour the victims and survivors of Canada's residential school system, which Macdonald established in 1894.
“If we forget about our history, we won’t learn from it,” he insisted. “If it was there, it was there. But we have to allow those who suffered under John A. Macdonald to also have their say. We have to point out those who contributed to this cultural genocide and we shouldn’t hide it.”
Over the years, the statue was repeatedly vandalized and then finally toppled by protesters in 2020, and Macdonald's image has not since been returned to Place du Canada, overlooking René-Lévesque Boulevard.
Quebec Premier François Legault said after it was taken down by demonstrators, that it should be put back.
“Of course we need to fight against racism,” Legault said at the time. “But that is not the way to do it — we have to respect the history.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also condemned the action at the time, suggesting it may be put back up.
Thursday, former mayor Coderre spoke about the role his administration played in adding a white pine of peace to the centre of Montreal's flag, which he claims started the reconciliation process.
He adds that, if elected, he would focus on governance and tourism and including Indigenous communities at the table.
Toujours un plaisir de croiser le chef de l'@APNQL, Ghislain Picard. Ensemble, nous poursuivrons la réconciliation avec des actions concrètes et un suivi de nos promesses.#polmtl #JNVR #JournéeDuChandailOrange #VéritéEtRéconciliation pic.twitter.com/ywLKunEbMN— DenisCoderre (@DenisCoderre) September 30, 2021
Coderre admits that systemic racism exists in Montreal, and insists more must be done to address it.
"There is systemic racism and we need to recognize that," he said. "We cannot redo the past. We need to recognize it and do better in the future... The time has come to call a spade a spade."
Legault still refuses to recognize systemic racism in the province, and when asked how Coderre would navigate the difference of opinion if elected mayor, he was quick to answer.
"Well get used to it because that's the status of the metropolis," said Coderre. "At the end of the day, it's always going to come to a metropolis."