“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell
We, as a nation, would not be what we are, and as a people, would not be who we are without the vision and drive of Sir John A. MacDonald. The proposition that we remove him from our history because, after the benefit of 150 years of hindsight, we can rightly question the merits of some policies conducted which concurred with the social mores of the time, puts on the edge of a very slippery revisionist slope.
Should we not then erase William Lyon Mackenzie King from statuary, text books, and elsewhere? After all, he did authorize the internment of thousands of Japanese Canadians in World War 2. Why not erase Pierre Elliot Trudeau as well? He authorized the elimination of habeus corpus and arbitrarily had over 500 people arrested without charge in October 1970.
Perhaps we should start erasing all artifacts within our own family histories, purging all momentos of parents who smoked in cars with kids, mothers who drank alcohol while pregnant, and who allowed toddlers to play in the back of station wagons on family road trips, with nary a seat belt in sight. All behaviour that would invoke public censure today but at the time was not considered inappropriate.
Just as we shudder to think of acting like our parents or grandparents in some ways, we still appreciate their contribution and efforts. We can look back and take pause of mistakes made in the past and use them as lessons to make the future better. Better that than to take either a rhetorical or a literal sledgehammer to our national legacy.
Consultation has concluded