CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is facing backlash after denouncing Black Lives Matter protesters for toppling a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal over the weekend.
In a series of tweets sent Saturday afternoon, Kenney called the statue’s toppling and beheading an act of “vandalism” caused by “roving bands of thugs.”
The Alberta premier also said he would be “happy to receive (the statue) for installation on the grounds of Alberta’s Legislature.”
1/ A mob has torn down and defaced the statue of Sir John A Macdonald in Montreal.
This vandalism of our history and heroes must stop.
As his biographer Richard Gwyn wrote, “no Macdonald, no Canada.” Both Macdonald & the country he created were flawed but still great. pic.twitter.com/ntxqmn0G49
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) August 29, 2020
Those comments are not sitting right with a Calgary teacher.
“These groups are trying to tell you, as a leader, what this statute means to them,” said high-school teacher Courtney Walcott. “And your first response is, ‘I’ll take that symbol of hate and trauma and violence, and will proudly display it on the front steps of the Alberta Legislature.’
“It’s very clear where his position is on actually listening to the people that he is supposed to represent.”
Calgary city councillor Sean Chu and Alberta’s Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu have supported Kenney’s comments.
This madness needs to stop. Governments across our country must take steps to rein in these violent activists. They serve no identifiable good to the cause of justice or equality. 1/5 #ableg #cdnpoli https://t.co/CunsmDLIhk
— Kaycee Madu (@KayceeMaduYEG) August 29, 2020
The John A. Macdonald statue, which sits in Montreal’s Place du Canada, has been repeatedly targeted by vandals who see it as a symbol of racism and colonialism.
Other statues of Macdonald – Canada’s first prime minster – have been an issue of contention across the country. Macdonald’s tenure included instituting the Indian Act, creating residential schools and employing starvation tactics to control Indigenous people.
It’s something Kenney acknowledged, saying “Macdonald and the country he created were flawed but still great… It’s right to debate his legacy and life.”
But Walcott says Kenney’s response – and the fact that Calgary has a school named after Macdonald – perpetuates a narrative that the first prime minister’s actions were commendable.
“The fact that anyone in Black Lives Matter, anyone who is Indigenous, anyone who is LGBTQ+ are protesting – that’s the great part of this country. They are using their constitutional right to create changes.”
“The flawed parts of our country, that’s what they’re seeking to change.”
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante condemned the vandalism of the statue of Macdonald, which she said could be neither tolerated nor accepted.
“I understand and share the motivation of citizens who want to live in a more just and inclusive society,” she said in a statement. “But the discussion and the acts to be taken must be done in a peaceful manner, without ever resorting to vandalism.”
I strongly condemn the acts of vandalism that took place this afternoon in downtown Montréal, which led to the John A. Macdonald statue being torn down. Such gestures cannot be accepted nor tolerated. (1/4) #polmtl
— Valérie Plante (@Val_Plante) August 29, 2020