The city of Kingston, Ontario has increased security around an 1895 statue of Sir John a. Macdonald in City Park by installing several cameras and posting notices to let you know that while you are viewing the statue, you are also being watched.
Colin Wiginton, the Kingston cultural director says that this beefing up of security is a measure taken to protect the corporate assets, this one being one of the city’s oldest assets.
“It’s not a new kind of thing we do, but cameras have been put on the monument for the first time,” Wiginton told Global News.
Macdonald has become a controversial figure as anti-racism activists and others have targeted statues and memorials of Canada’s first Prime Minister.
A statue of Sir John A. Macdonald at the provincial legislature in Montreal was pulled down by activists on August 29, before the police dispersed the mob.
Another statue was vandalized at Queen’s Park in Toronto on July 18 and later boarded up with a bag over its head portion.
Sir John’s hands were painted red in Picton back in June.
Outside the Anne of Green Gables store in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, red paint was dumped on a Macdonald statue that sits on a bench, turning toward the store.
In British Columbia’s capital, Victoria city council voted in 2018 to remove a similar statue as a gesture of reconciliation for Macdonald’s checkered legacy, which included being one fo the leading architects of the residential school system that destroyed the families of the First Nations people across Canada.
Critics of Macdonald also point to the poor treatment of Chinese Canadians and Macdonald’s role in the Chinese head tax, a fixed fee charged to Chinese people entering Canada meant to discourage Chinese immigration.
While Victoria removed its statute, Kingston says its statue will remain.
Kingston Mayor, Bryan Paterson, has welcomed healthy debate and discussion about Macdonald but said vandalism isn’t acceptable.
“There is no place for that. It is not acceptable. And quite frankly it turns more people off.”
“We have heard very clearly from the community that the statue should not come down, and we’re not going to take it down,” Paterson told Global News.
Paterson says that what they are going to do is rewrite the plaques, and talk about the good and the bad of Macdonald’s legacy.
“That’s how you learn from history. You add to it. You don’t take away from it.”