Opinion Jul 3, 2020 7:35 PM EST

Sir John A. MacDonald deserves his statue despite his flaws

Let us build more statues so we can celebrate Canadians who, for all their faults, fought hard to make this country a better place.

Sir John A. MacDonald deserves his statue despite his flaws
Warren Steinley Regina, SK.
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I can’t say I’m surprised, but left wing cancel culture has officially come for Regina’s statue of Sir John A. MacDonald.

Certainly, not everything that Sir John A. MacDonald said or did is worthy of celebration. There is no denying that many of his views, especially those about indigenous Canadians, were totally unacceptable.

My argument for why his statue should continue to stand where it does is not rooted in a defense of these ideas, but rather a celebration of his positive contributions to Canadian Federation and his key role in the evolution of what has become the greatest country in the world.

Simply put, I believe that we need more statues not less. After all, statues are never responsible for violence and hatred; those are the acts of living, breathing people. It’s what we learn from statues and monuments that matters.

I would like my children and the next generation after them to learn more about our past, both the good and the bad. Our history as a country is by no means perfect and many mistakes have been made by people and leaders throughout time. But the mistakes of the past should not be all that next generations learn of our history. To view the past exclusively through a modern lens will ensure that no person is ever good enough to be remembered.

People of all political stripes have their flaws. Tommy Douglas wrote a racially charged PhD on eugenics and euthanasia, and thought that homosexuality was a mental illness that should be treated by a psychiatrist. Mackenzie King would not allow Jews fleeing Germany to come to Canada. Wilfred Laurier signed an executive order disallowing blacks into Canada. These leaders from our past have made many positive contributions to our province and country, but also held terribly prejudiced views or proposed thoroughly unacceptable and hateful policies.

Let us build more statues so we can celebrate Canadians who, for all their faults, fought hard to make this country a better place. Let us remember and learn about great Canadians like Louis Riel, Chief Poundmaker, John Diefenbaker and Mary Greyeyes (the 1st First Nations woman to join the Canadian Armed Forces). Let us celebrate all great Canadians, and make sure to include stories that have gone overlooked in the past because of unjust biases.

As a father, I want my children to learn about those that came before them, our country’s history, and how we have grown and developed into an ever more tolerant, free and accepting society over time. Selectively erasing parts of Canadian history will not improve our future; that statement includes past attempts to erase Indigenous Canadian history as well.

It's time that we stop trying to destroy history, stop tearing down statues, and stop perpetually vilifying historical figures. Is our history littered with mistakes and injustices? Without question; but we also have countless amazing achievements and accomplishments to be proud of.

That’s why Sir John A. MacDonald deserves a statue. He deserves a statue because of his contributions to the creation of Canada, a country that has become one of the most desirable destinations for people from around the world to call home and make a better life for themselves and their families.

All leaders are imperfect, and some are more imperfect than others. Let us learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and confront these facts head on so that we can continue to come closer to achieving our universal ideals of freedom and equality of opportunity for all. Preserving our monuments and remembering our past will ensure we can continue to learn from both successes and failures, and help us to make Canada better and more prosperous for generations to come.

Warren Steinley is a Conservative MP for Regina-Lewvan

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