Column: Sir John A. was a racist

BOSTON – What never moves and never talks, but is too often racist?

Statues, of course. They’re lifeless. Down here in America, but also back home in Canada.

Statues paying tributes to notorious historical racists like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are still found across the Southern U.S. – and someone even erected one honouring Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first leader of the Ku Klux Klan, just outside Nashville.

Here in Boston, the famous Faneuil Hall is named after an infamous slave trader. And in the city’s North End, there’s a Christopher Columbus statue – which pays homage to a man who also traded in slaves.

In 1492, upon arriving in the Caribbean and on his way to North America, Columbus was greeted as a demi-god by the native Arawak people. By 1495, on a return trip, Columbus was energetically committing acts of genocide against the Arawaks. They no longer exist as a people.

Debates have been raging about such statues for years, but have intensified in the age of the Racist-in-Chief, Donald Trump. Advocates for the racist statues say that these men are part of our history, and we should not tamper with history.

Opponents of these racist statues state, correctly, that such monuments are painful reminders of slavery, violence and genocide. They, we, argue that we should not ever celebrate hatred. They, we, echo the words of former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, who said such monuments “rewrite history to hide the truth [and] purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.”

But the fans of racist statues are undeterred. Even up in Canada, where we regularly (and falsely) claim to be a kinder, gentler and less-racist nation than the United States, a controversy has grown around a certain statue of Sir John A. Macdonald.

The City of Victoria recently decided to remove a Macdonald statue on the steps at city hall. Ontario’s government then wrote them a letter, offering to take the statue Victoria that didn’t want. Ontario Tourism Minister Sylvia Jones told the Legislature that “people are complicated, but there is no doubt that 125 years after his death, our first prime minister stands as an important Canadian within the creation of our country.”

And that, certainly, is true. Macdonald is important, and he was “complicated.” But – knowing what we now know about him – he is not a man we should be celebrating like we once did. Statues and monuments should not be built in his honour.

If you disagree, a challenge. Imagine, for a moment, you are a First Nations person – or imagine that you are, like me, father to an indigenous girl. Just imagine that. Then read these words.

Here’s what he said in 1879: “When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages. He is simply a savage who can read and write. Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

And here’s what he said in 1885: “…we have been pampering and coaxing the Indians; [but] we must take a new course, we must vindicate the position of the white man, we must teach the Indians what law is.”

Also in 1885: “I have not hesitated to tell this House, again and again, that we could not always hope to maintain peace with the Indians; that the savage was still a savage, and that until he ceased to be savage, we were always in danger of a collision, in danger of war, in danger of an outbreak.”

A couple years later, in 1887: “The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.”

And, finally, this in 1884, when describing potlaches, the joyful indigenous gatherings held to celebrate births, deaths, adoptions, weddings: “…celebrating the ‘potlatch’ is a misdemeanor. This Indian festival is debauchery of the worst kind, and the departmental officers and all clergymen unite in affirming that it is absolutely necessary to put this practice down.”

And “put them down” Sir John A. did. He gave Canada’s First Nations – the ones who were here first – assimilation, brutality and genocidal residential school. That’s what he gave them, and us.

There therefore should be no further statues in his honour. There should be no new schools bearing his name. There should be more of us doing what Victoria has done.

Instead, let’s build monuments to those historical figures who were not violent racists.

Because statues, as lifeless as they are, can still hurt the living.

Keesmaat’s former boss: she’s an opportunist – and she never got anything done


“Nothing definitive was achieved [by Keesmaat],” he said. “No agreements were reached, no final positions were established.”

He said Gillespie only learned of her decision to run for mayor on the Friday just before she submitted her paperwork to Toronto’s city clerk.

Emory found out after the fact.

“I was quite literally dumbstruck and in disbelief … I found it shocking,” he said.

“In my opinion it does not reflect well on Jennifer and that’s probably a temperate way of putting it.”‘

Calling all smart #UofT and #Ryerson students

Are you smart?  Can you write?  Can you research?  Do you harbour a desire to be a famous hack or flack one day?

Good news! Daisy Group is looking for a student (and maybe two) who attends, or has recently graduated from, U of T and/or Ryerson.  We are looking for folks who are nearby: it’s easier on you, and it’s easier on us.  Full or part-time are possible, depending on how amazing you are.

Email lisa at daisygroup dot ca (not me).  And don’t delay!

Donald Trump isn’t the only one who wants to build a wall

Jennifer Keesmaat’s vision for Toronto, not exactly as pictured.

There are 67 days until Election Day, and Jennifer Keesmaat still has this up.  She slept on it, apparently, and she still wants to separate from Ontario, Canada.

It’s crazy, sure, but it at least explains her desire for a TST (Toronto Sales Tax): she’ll need to tax the living Hell out of everyone living in her city-state to pay for basic services.

Oh, and you want jobs in Toronto? There’ll be plenty of opportunities for bricklayers to build Keesmaat’s wall along Steeles Avenue!


Randy Rampage, RIP

Randy, Chuck, Joey.

The Hot Nasties played a few shows with DOA, and with Randy, who played bass for them, off and on.

A big loss.  One of the originals.  RIP, Randy.

Vancouver punk legend Randy Rampage died Tuesday night. He was 58.

As the original bassist in DOA, Rampage was one of the founding fathers of Vancouver’s alternative music scene. With his peroxide blond hair and ever-present black leather jacket he was a riveting onstage presence, prone to leaping into the air and doing the splits in the middle of a song.

He quit and rejoined DOA a few times over the years, which inspired the title of a 2017 autobiography he wrote with Chris Walter, I Survived DOA.

He also did a couple of stints as singer for thrash metal standard-bearers Annihilator. In recent years he fronted his own band, Rampage, which had just recorded a new album.

But punk rock and thrash metal don’t always pay the bills, so Randall Desmond Archibald worked as a longshoreman in between music gigs. He worked on the North Shore docks Wednesday, then came home and was relaxing in a chair watching a South Park DVD on TV when he suffered an apparent heart attack.

He had recently returned to work after being off on compensation after he was hit by a forklift at work. It was the second time he had a run-in with a forklift – a few years ago his leg was crushed by a 7,000 pound roll of newsprint.