Allow me to take issue with the various points made about the positive record of Sir John A. Macdonald by Bert Christie in his letter (Good deeds forgotten, Sept. 19).
There is, of course, another side to this story that should not be erased.
- Macdonald made no effort whatsoever to include Indigenous voices, the original inhabitants of this land, in the Confederation debates and meetings.
- His desire to build a national railway coincided with his view that Indigenous lands should be forcibly confiscated from our First Peoples in the name of settler colonization and westward expansion.
- Under Macdonald’s Gradual Enfranchisement Act (1869), he created a male-only band council voting system and eventually endorsed the law that stipulated that an Indigenous woman would lose her “status” if she married a non-Indigenous man.
- It was also true that Macdonald supported the idea that First Peoples would only be granted the right to vote if they forfeited their formal status as Indigenous.
- As far as Indigenous women were concerned, he believed (under the draconian pass system) that they should not leave the reserve unless they had the proper permit — even if they wanted to get married off reserve land.
- According to Prof. James Daschuk, Macdonald was less concerned about the starvation of First Nations peoples (by cutting desperately-needed food rations) and more worried about saving money.
With respect to the plaque solution to the Macdonald statue, it will have to be a rather large plaque I’m afraid. Why not put the statue in the P.E.I. legislature and provide a more in-depth examination of Macdonald’s full record?
Peter McKenna, professor,
University of Prince Edward Island,