John A. Macdonald: A Legacy to Remember
Everyone has a dark side, but for a historical politician, this dark side may be the only way they are remembered. However, most historical people deserve a better legacy than what their dark side has left behind. A great example of a challenged politician is John A. Macdonald. Because of his “measures meant to destroy native cultures and traditions” within Canada, many Canadians believe his name and public figure should be removed from modern Canada’s public sphere(Olivier, 2017). The problem with this statement is that it doesn’t properly evaluate John A. Macdonald’s work for Canada, it only evaluates his dark side. John A. Macdonald has a challenging dark side, but he should still be respected because the views related to the racism of his time were vastly different than now, and because of his contributions creating the RCMP, along with his contributions to form Canada, trumps what he did to harm Canada’s history.
The reason this controversy is happening now, rather than in Macdonald’s time, is because Canadian values have changed drastically. Canadians value equality more than we ever have in history. Unfortunately, in Macdonald’s time, Canada didn’t value equality as much as it needed to, and this is what caused the terrible history between Canada and it’s indigenous people, this wasn’t completely John A. Macdonald’s fault. Today, we can easily “assume that almost anybody else in the prime minister’s chair at the time [of John A Macdonald,] would have similarly pursued an assimilationist policy against Canada’s First Nations,”(Hopper, 2018). Even the “ Liberal opposition benches accuse Macdonald of not starving Indians enough,”(Hopper, 2018). This is why we can’t rightfully shame John A. Macdonald for what he did to the First Nations. Of course, there was nothing stopping John A. Macdonald for fighting for the rights of the indigenous people, there was only a lot of people and other politicians wanting him to mistreat the indigenous people. If Macdonald wasn’t cruel to the indigenous people, he may have been voted out of parliament for not sharing the same views as his followers. Canada could be different today if Macdonald wasn’t Prime Minister, possibly for the worse. Although, the first nations people could be in a better state than they are now if Macdonald wasn’t the prime minister at the time, or if he had fought for their rights, but Canada’s relationship with the first nations could have been much worse if John wasn’t Prime Minister.
In addition, Macdonald has contributed a lot to build this country. Along with creating the CPR railroad and uniting multiple colonies to form Canada, “Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald created the police force that became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,”(Bonikowsky, 2015). Macdonald founded the North West Mounted Rifles. He created the NWMR to bring order and safety to the wild Northwest Territories in the mid-late 1800s, and the NWMR eventually became the North West Mounted Police, then the Royal North West Mounted Police and finally the RCMP that we know today. The RCMP plays a vital role in modern day Canada, without them, there would be no one to properly enforce the laws. The RCMP even “sent two cavalry squadrons” to help fight in World War 1 in 1918, (Bonikowsky, 2015). Macdonald is responsible for creating our police force, along with other vital parts of Canada like the CPR, and this is why we are wrongfully disrespecting him by taking down his statues and calling him ‘a traitor’. Macdonald made some terrible mistakes, but he made more good decisions and contributed more good to Canada than he took away.
In Macdonald’s time, racism was at a height, and being a prime minister in this time of racism wasn’t easy, but using the RCMP as an example, Canadians can know Macdonald always had Canada and it’s identity as a priority. Because of the views on racism in his time, John A Macdonald has done some terrible things to Canada, but more importantly, he has done more great things for Canada, like found the RCMP, and for this, he deserves our respect and to stay in the public sphere. Even though Canadian values have changed since our beginning, there is one value we can’t forget. We need to always remember and value our past, we need to celebrate the good of our past, and never forget the mistakes that were made while founding our country. Something that all Canadians cherish is modern day Canada, and Canada, as we love it today, would not be possible without our founding parents, we cannot deny them their proper legacy.
“Comment: John A. Macdonald Statue’s Removal Is Overdue.” Times Colonist, 13 Oct. 2017, www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-john-a-macdonald-statue-s-removal-is-overdue-1.23064384.
“The Formation of the RCMP.” The Formation of the RCMP | The Canadian Encyclopedia, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-formation-of-the-rcmp-feature.
Hopper, Tristin. “Here Is What Sir John A. Macdonald Did to Indigenous People.” National Post, 28 Aug. 2018, nationalpost.com/news/canada/here-is-what-sir-john-a-macdonald-did-to-indigenous-people.
Olivier, Annabelle. “Activists Deface Statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Downtown Montreal.” Global News, 12 Nov. 2017, globalnews.ca/news/3857052/activists-deface-statue-of-sir-john-a-macdonald-in-downtown-montreal/.