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

(File)
Interior News seeks messages for isolated Bulkley Valley seniors

Please join us in ensuring no one is forgotten this holiday season

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where one employee is still currently isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was first declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
54 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

There’s been a two-person increase in positive cases since Tuesday (Dec. 1)

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

RCMP will be out in force for the next four weeks looking for drunk and drug-impaired drivers. (Black Press file photo)
Smithers RCMP counter attack campaign starts

Additional officers and roadblocks will be on the streets throughout the holidays

A COVID-19 exposure has been recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace. The exposure occurred between Nov. 23 and Nov. 26, 2020. (Centennial Christian School Facebook photo)
COVID-19 exposure recorded at Centennial Christian School in Terrace

It’s the first known school exposure in Terrace

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

Most Read