Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the Sir John A. Macdonald statue on Parliament Hill isn't going anywhere, but he hopes more can be done to highlight both the bad and the good about Canada's first prime minister.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa At Work with Leslie Roberts", Watson said he doesn't believe that pulling down or defacing statues of former prime ministers accomplishes much in the long run.
"Tearing down and vandalising a statue is sort of a one-hit wonder. You get a burst of publicity and then the issue is gone until the next statue attack," he said.
Watson says having something on site that explains Macdonald's legacy and the criticisms of that legacy would be a better idea.
"If anything, a plaque that talks about good things Sir John A. did and the bad things he did, with respect to the residential school system, I think that's more of a learning moment for the public as opposed to defacing a statue and people going by not knowing why it was defaced," he said.
However, Watson says his idea is, ultimately, up to the federal government, since the statue is on land controlled by the National Capital Commission.
"It's not on our land, it's on Parliament Hill. I would encourage the federal government to look at doing something like that," he said.
This comes after a statue of Macdonald in Montreal was pulled down at a defund police rally last weekend. The incident sparked another round of discussions over Macdonald's legacy, which includes being a Father of Confederation and Canada's first prime minister but also includes genocidal acts against Canadian Indigenous people, such as intentionally starving women and children to help “clear” the plains for settlement, and developing the residential school system.
Politicians across Canada, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, condemned the vandalism of the statue in Montreal.
Quebec Premier François Legault has pledged that it will be restored and put back.