British Columbia

Victoria city council to decide future of John A. Macdonald statue

Six months after its removal from Victoria’s city hall, the controversial John A. Macdonald statue has once again become a topic of discussion amongst city council, after money was set aside in this year’s strategic plan for it’s relocation.

Statue was removed from Victoria City Hall in August 2018

The statue of John A. Macdonald was removed from the front steps of Victoria City Hall on Saturday, Aug 11. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Six months after its removal from Victoria's city hall, the John A. Macdonald statue has again become a topic of discussion amongst city politicians, after money was set aside in this year's strategic plan for its relocation.

The piece has been sitting in storage, but its future is now up for debate.

Chris Considine, a member of the Sir John A. Macdonald Society of B.C., which donated the statue to the people of Victoria, told  All Points West host Robyn Burns that although city council met with local Indigenous leaders to discuss the removal of the statue, there was no consultation with the broader community.

That failure to consult upset some people, Considine said.

"I think that a lot of people appreciate Sir John's contribution to this country," he said. "Canada is a wonderful place both nationally and internationally, and Sir John was a remarkable man who brought this country together."

Now, he hopes city council will discuss where the statue will end up. He believes it should be in a place of prominence in the provincial capital.

"It's a beautiful piece of work," he said. "It should be somewhere ... we can appreciate Sir John and also recommend and recognize that Sir John may have not been the most perfect of politicians."

Considine suggested a plaque with more information about Macdonald's role in residential schools.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said there will "absolutely" be a public consultation process as part of the decision around relocation of the statue.

"I'm actually quite optimistic and quite excited about the process that will unfold from May onwards," she said.

It's been suggested that it could be placed somewhere on the property of the B.C. Legislature. Education minister and MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake Rob Fleming said he hasn't been made aware of any certain plans to go ahead with this.

"I mean he was not elected at the provincial level," Fleming said. "I'll let council do their work and consider the staff report presumably that's before them, and wait for them to be in touch with us."

Fleming said he's also heard of discussions to relocate the statue to the Royal B.C. Museum, just across the street from the legislature.

Helps said she has no strong opinions as to where the statue should end up, other than it shouldn't be on the steps of city hall. 

Discussions about the statue's fate will begin in May, and the statue will be relocated by the end of 2019.