Why wait to relocate Sir John A. Macdonald?
Before first light on a Saturday two years ago, a work crew assembled in front of City Hall and spirited away the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald. It was a stunning act of failed municipal governance in Greater Victoria.
Pretty much every tenet of good governance was bungled during the entire affair.
The province was offered the 635-kilogram bronze statue, but quickly declined. The Ministry of Tourism in Ontario expressed interest, but that never materialized. The Confederation Fountain location on Menzies was entertained for a while. Perhaps the best option, the B.C. Museum, came up in many debates.
A public discussion series on reconciliation was born out of the statue’s removal and protests, after many residents accused the council of moving too quickly, running up an excessive $30,126 taxpayer bill, and limiting public debate.
Spurred, perhaps, council has recently added a governance review – the last was done in 2008 – to its strategic plan for 2021. It’s hoped the statue debacle will be used as a case study in what not to do and to stop it from happening again.
During a reconciliation dialogue on Sir John A. Macdonald attended by 350 people in March, Mayor Lisa Helps told the media a relocation decision won’t be rushed but made prior to the 2022 election. Due to the pandemic though, the final public reconciliation conversations are postponed indefinitely.
The statue could be used to educate people about the past including the context of the times they lived in.
So, why can’t or won’t mayor and council make a decision now on a specific date and place for the statue relocation to include a balanced account of Sir John. A. Macdonald’s mixed historical legacy?