Sir John A. Macdonald on Trial: An IDEAS event at Queen's University

He’s seen as the father our nation. Without him, Confederation might never have happened. And as the celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday continue to fade into the background, the controversy around Sir John A. Macdonald’s legacy continues to build.
Sir John Alexander Macdonald (1815-1891), Canadian statesman, and the first prime minister of the Dominion of Canada (1867-1873). Image circa 1880. (Edward Gooch/Getty Images)

He's seen as the father our nation. Without him, Confederation might never have happened. And as the celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday continue to fade into the background, the controversy around Sir John A. Macdonald's legacy continues to build. 

This special episode of IDEAS puts Canada's first Prime Minister on trial for "crimes against humanity".

Prosecuting Macdonald is renowned Métis lawyer, Jean Teillet, founder of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and the great-grandniece of Louis Riel. Her case features two counts, charging that:

  • Macdonald knowingly maintained a reign of terror against our Métis subjects in the Province of Manitoba from 1870-1872 that resulted in multiple assaults, rapes and deaths; and
  • Macdonald knowingly withheld food from our First Nation subjects in the North-West that resulted in thousands of deaths by starvation.


Defending Sir John A. Macdonald is award-winning criminal defence lawyer, Frank Addario, who is also Vice-President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The judge will be The Honourable Ian Binnie, former Supreme Court Justice, described by the Toronto Star as "one of the strongest hands on the court". 

The host of CBC Radio IDEAS, Paul Kennedy, will host the event. 

When & Where:

Date: Friday March 16, 2018.
Time: doors open 7 p.m. Trial begins 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: free; first come, first serve
Location: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Queen's University, 390 King St. W., Kingston

This event is produced by CBC Radio IDEAS in partnership with Queen's University.

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