In a debate that was at times emotional Hamilton City Council has deferred a decision on whether or not to remove the statue of Sir John A MacDonald from Gore Park. Instead the matter of the Macdonald statue along with approximately 200 other named streets, places and examples of commemoration will be referred to staff which will undertake a Historical Review of City of Hamilton owned landmarks, including park and street names and to report back to council with recommendations. The work will be led by an indigenous consultant, Nation FPG Inc, whose senior staff are all of First Nations ancestry and have been engaged in reconciliation work for twenty years. They will be working with Shelly Hill the Manager, Indigenous Relations for the City.
Before the vote, Councillors Nrinder Nann, and Maureen Wilson made emotional appeals to council to remove the MacDonald statue immediately. Clr. Nann argued that not removing the statue would send a bad message to the indigenous community.
Clr Tom Jackson said the process staff recommended—that of developing a fulsome policy that could be applied to all of theses historical commemoration issues was best.
Clr. Maria Pearson also felt that there needs to be a process in place to deal with these controversies, because there are sure to be more on the way.
Clr. John-Paul Danko said tearing down statues in the heat of the moment will only serve to alienate many Canadians who genuinely want to see reconciliation take place.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger also argued to allow the city’s Indigenous strategy and the staff research to take place in an orderly fashion,
After a debate that lasted nearly two hours, council voted 12 to 3 to allow the staff to get on with developing a policy to deal will all of the naming issues related to historical figures.