Skip to content

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

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 per cent) say they would oppose such a move, while one-quarter (25 per cent) are in favour.  A significant segment – nearly one-in-five (19 per cent) 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 per cent) 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 per cent) 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 full story here:

What do you think about this story?