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Most say a person’s entire life & principal legacy should determine if they’re publicly memorialized

What’s in a name? Call to remove John A. MacDonald’s from schools meets firm opposition

By —— Bio and Archives--August 29, 2017

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August 28, 2017 – A call from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario to remove the name of Canada’s first prime minister from public schools because of his support for Indigenous assimilation through residential education is being met with more than twice as much opposition as support.

The latest survey from the Angus Reid Institute finds more than half of Canadians (55%) say they would oppose such a move, while one-quarter (25%) are in favour.  A significant segment – nearly one-in-five (19%) could not offer an opinion.

This comes against the backdrop of tensions over the legacy, role and place of historical monuments south of the border. As protests and counter-protests over Confederate statues in the U.S. have turned violent, attention in this country has turned to Canada’s own memorialization of historical figures.

In recent times, concerns about the contributions of some of Canada’s founders to the establishment of residential schools and the abuse of Indigenous people have led to the renaming of bridges and buildings and the removal of statues across the country.

However, these survey results show that the vast majority of Canadians (88%) are of the view that a person’s entire life and principal legacy that should determine which historical figures ought to be – or ought to continue to be – memorialized.

Key Findings:

  • Opposition to removing John A. MacDonald differs along political lines. Past Conservative voters are almost twice as likely as past New Democratic Party voters to oppose removal (76% versus 41%). Past Liberals occupy the middle ground: 56 per cent oppose removing the name of Canada’s first prime minister from schools. MacDonald, it should be noted, was a Conservative PM
  • Canadians are much more divided over the renaming of the Langevin Block building in Ottawa, and the proposed removal of a statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax.
  • Seven-in-ten (69%) say historical figures should not be judged by modern concepts of racism. The same number say that statues of historical figures such as Cornwallis would be better placed in museums to be discussed with proper context

Link to the poll here:

Download .PDF (1 MB) with detailed tables, graphs and methodology.

Media Contact:
Shachi Kurl: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) @shachikurl


Angus Reid Institute -- Bio and Archives | Comments

The Angus Reid Institute is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to enhance and encourage better understanding of issues and trends affecting economic, social, governance, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and foreign policy in Canada and its world.

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