If you had the power of being the first leader for a new country how would you use it? Sir John A. Macdonald was the first prime minister of Canada and he used power for the greater good, of himself. He was manipulative and made many empty promises. He has been known for “charges of racism and sexism,” and for these reasons is why Macdonald’s name and likeness should be removed from the public sphere (Symons).
Imagine being a woman in the late 19th century and you were told that there may be a chance for you to vote. A promise had been made and you were told that your prime minister “believed that women, as a whole, were conservative,” and you thought finally, you would be able to have your say in politics (Gwyn). Then, out of the blue, you were told that the promise that had been made to you was never meant to be kept. This is what happened to Canadian women in the late 19th century. Macdonald had made a promise to the women and it’s “true that Macdonald was interested in attracting their votes,” but “even if the small number of women who might qualify all cast their ballots for him, Macdonald would have lost the votes of an incomparably larger number of men” which is all that mattered to Macdonald at the time, votes. He only wanted women to be able to vote because then he thought he would get more votes for himself, but when he realized that by allowing women to vote he would lose the votes of men, he retracted his proposal. He would’ve lost more votes of men than he would’ve gained from women, so he didn’t want to risk it. This shows how he wasn’t making the proposal for equality for women, but for his own benefits and therefore should be removed from the public sphere.
Now, on one hand, “there is abundant evidence of [Macdonald’s] habit of genuine kindness to many people – men, women, and children regardless of age, occupation, status, faith, culture, or race,” but that is just how he was mostly seen in the public eye (Symons). On the other hand, “Canada’s first prime minister, was an architect of Indigenous genocide,” (Ballingall). Macdonald mistreated many Indigenous people and created residential schools. The decision to open residential schools was “one of the most problematic in our history,” where it took children from their homes, away from their families, forbade them to speak their native language, and forced them to learn a religion that was not their own. When justifying the idea, Macdonald referred to the Aboriginals as “savages” and if one was to learn from their parent they would be “simply a savage that can read and write”. With residential schools having at least 6,000 children die while in school, “almost everybody was fine with the expectation that the native way of life would soon be extinct,” (Hopper). Not only did Macdonald say these diminishing words about Indigenous in the first place, he also said them openly in public. He was publicly discriminative towards Indigenous people without hesitation and should be removed from the public sphere for it.
Sir John A. Macdonald, the manipulative “architect of Indigenous genocide,” who “famously set out to ‘kill the Indian in the child’,” has no place in the public sphere as the great public figure he is seen as today (Dimaline). These are just a few amongst many mistakes and poor decisions that Macdonald has made that we do not acknowledge. The removal of Macdonald in the public sphere will lessen tensions in the relationship between the Indigenous. Knowing how he used his power for himself and the people must be taught to get a full understanding of Sir John A. Macdonald as the First Prime Minister of Canada.
Gwyn, Richard J. “Canada’s History.” 6 Jan. 2015. Sir John A. Macdonald has been caricatured as a drunkard and a crook. But without him there would be no Canada.
Symons, Thomas H.B. JOHN A. MACDONALD: A FOUNDER AND BUILDER.
Ballingall, Alex. “Sir John A. Macdonald: Architect of Genocide or Canada’s Founding Father? .” The Toronto Star , 25 Aug. 2017.
Hopper, Tristan. “Sure, John A. Macdonald Was a Racist, Colonizer and Misogynist —but so Were Most Canadians Back Then.” NationalPost, 10 Jan. 2015.
Dimaline, Cherie. “Why John A. Macdonald’s Name Doesn’t Belong on Canada’s Schools.” Today’s Parent, 24 Aug. 2017.