April 18 2018
When the A stands for “Always a good debate” in John A. Macdonald
What should you do if the first leader of your country discriminated against the people in our country? John A. Macdonald is a complicated person to study. He may have had a hand in building this country, but he also damaged it. Now the real question is whether we should have reminders of what he has done, bad and good, or if we should eradicate him from the entire public sphere? This is the debate that is happening from coast to coast. Yet, due to Macdonald’s progressive ideas towards women’s rights and the effectiveness of his business skills, Macdonald’s name and likeness should continue to be in the public sphere.
The path to equality with women and men has always been a long and difficult task to accomplish, simply obtaining the right to vote for women was a struggle in itself. Yet, Macdonald started Canada on this trail of women’s equality fairly early. “In 1885, Macdonald became the first national leader in the world to attempt to extend the vote to women”(GWYN). In this time period women equality was not something that was at all supported, and to have a Prime Minister that “broke social rules by attending a few meetings of the Salvation Army in Kingston, Ontario,” to support a woman who was in charge of that particular branch of the salvation army, was truly inspiring (GWYN). Hence, since Macdonald actions gave more awareness to women equality and women’s rights, his names and likeness should not be removed from the public sphere.
Although many Canadians are all for removing Macdonald from the public sphere. Justifying themselves that the upbringing of Canadian Pacific Railway(CPR) created the platform that made it possible for Canada’s first political scandal, that surrounded Macdonald. Yet, when looking back on Macdonald’s mistakes, we seem to forget that this has been just simply how business was and is still done. “It was not the ﬁrst time a politician ﬁghting for the life of his government and public policy solicited ﬁnancial support and it will not be the last” (SYMONS). Often, people will have a great idea but can’t distribute it out into the world. This is where investors come along. They support your idea and therefore support you, often giving you money to aid you with your future goal. The downfall is, these investors usually want something back, and you’re obliged to give it to them. This is just how business works. Macdonald was merely just doing business. When choosing who would earn the coveted contract to construct the CPR he chose a company who first believed in and supported him. Being someone who understands business should not be a reason as to why we shouldn’t keep him in the public eye.
The argument that the “architect of Indigenous genocide,” should leave or the creator of our country should stay will always be a heavily debated one (BALLINGALL). Nevertheless, the progressive ideas he created for women’s rights and his understanding of how to best run this country, Macdonald and everything that is related to him shouldn’t be removed from the public eye. Conclusively, not having Macdonald’s viewpoint on how this country was made will just be forcing us to do every historian’s worst nightmare; we would only be listening to a single story about John A. Macdonald, and that never turns out well.
Waite, P.B. “Pacific Scandal.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/pacific-scandal/.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Pacific Scandal.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Jan. 2018, www.britannica.com/event/Pacific-Scandal.