Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is denouncing the vandals who toppled and defaced a Montreal statue of the first prime minister of Canada over the weekend, while the Quebec premier said it would be repaired and put back.
Trudeau told reporters in Montreal he understands the impatience of Canadians who want to see more action on racism and systemic discrimination, but said vandalism is not an acceptable way to express those views.
“Those kinds of acts of vandalism are not advancing the path towards greater justice and equality in this country,” Trudeau said.
Montreal police originally said the vandals unbolted the sculpture of John A. Macdonald before toppling it on Saturday. But police said Monday that their investigation showed the statue had not been bolted to the pedestal.
The statue was toppled and sprayed with graffiti at the end of a protest demanding cities cut police budgets.
It had repeatedly been vandalized by critics who cite Macdonald’s role in establishing the residential school system, as well as his racist comments about Indigenous peoples.
Trudeau said society has work to do in combating systemic discrimination, and should debate the actions of past leaders and the future of monuments honouring them.
But, he said, Canada’s laws need to be respected as those conversations advance.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault also condemned the vandalism Monday, telling reporters the statue would be restored and put back.
“Of course, we need to fight against racism, but that’s not the way to do it,” Legault said. “We have to respect the history.”
© The Canadian Press