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

UCP MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka Ron Orr. (File photo)
MLA Ron Orr: Benchmarks were achieved but goalposts were moved

Orr responds to concerns, calls on province to fully open Step 2

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

(Black Press file photo)
Blackfalds continuing its fight for a registries office

The Town of Blackfalds has been fighting for a Registry Service outlet for roughly a decade

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province may consider a regional approach to loosening COVID-19 restrictions if numbers continue to decline. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Province further easing health restrictions

Numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care has dropped dramatically, says premier

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Many rural seniors are having to travel a long way to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Stettler residents are being told to go to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose. (Black Press file photo).
Rural central Alberta seniors have to travel far to get vaccines

Stettler residents are being directed to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose clinics

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. (Pixabay)
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a news conference in Calgary on May 29, 2020. Shandro says Alberta is considering whether to extend the time between COVID-19 vaccine shots to four months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta may follow B.C.’s lead on faster rollout of first COVID-19 dose

Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming

Most Read