Prime Ministers Path project on pause in Wilmot Township
KITCHENER -- The controversial Sir John A Macdonald statue in Baden could soon be on the move, and the wider project surrounding it put on pause, with council voting on the topic during a lengthy meeting Monday night.
The divisive issue brought more than a dozen delegations to Wilmot Township Council as elected officials prepared to make a decision on the project.
The motion presented by Coun. Angie Hallman called for pausing of the Prime Ministers Path project to allow for more public consultation.
The project would eventually see statues of all of Canada’s prime ministers brought to Castle Kilbride.
Currently the path has six statues, including William Lyon Mackenzie King and Kim Campbell, along with Sir John A. Macdonald.
The delegations began just before 8 p.m. and collectively took more than two hours.
Some spoke for keeping the statues, others spoke for removing the statues, and several of people voiced their opinions on the rift caused by the debate.
“We are in the situation we are in because of Sir John A Macdonald and subsequent prime ministers who built on his foundation. Some suggest no one should be judged based on a single issue and I agree to that,” said Lori Campbell, chair of Indigenous studies program for University of Waterloo during the meeting.
“Sir John A Macdonald put forward the Indian act, the RCMP, the 60s scoop, foster care, land rights issues and Indigenous issues, are all compounding on what it is that he started.”
Over the last few weeks, the statue of Sir John A Macdonald has become a lightning rod for controversy.
The statue has had red paint thrown on it multiple times, attracting sit-ins and protests -- both for and against its removal.
“In a democratic society, other people are also allowed to have their viewpoints respected. Other people looking at the Macdonald statue may see the birth of a nation that has become one of the best in the entire world, filling them with a sense of pride,” said Robert Roth of the Save our Statues Committee during the meeting.
“Others might look at it and recall Macdonald uniting the provinces under confederation.”
Following the delegations, the motion put forward by Coun. Hallman was carried in a 4-2 vote.
Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong and Coun. Jeff Gerber voted against the motion
The motion put the Prime Ministers Path project on hold until at least March 2021.
The amended motion also calls for staff to consider new potential locations for the Sir John A. Macdonald statue and report back to council.