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

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

Central Saanich will investigate ways in which the municipality along with funding partners Sidney and North Saanich can financially support the Panorama Recreation Centre. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich to spell out options for financially supporting Panorama Recreation Centre

Municipality looks for best use of COVID-19 restart grant worth some $3.5 million

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Most Read