02/20/2014 05:21 EST | Updated 04/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Sir John A. Macdonald Should Be Celebrated Not Ridiculed

I would like to add my name to a long list of Canadians who are determined to celebrate Canada's greatest citizen, Sir John A. Macdonald this year.

His celebration is even more urgent as we are less than a year away from what would have been his 200th birthday next January. Is there really a fitting tribute to give to such a magnificent and important Canadian citizen -- our very own George Washington?

Earlier this week, Scarborough City Councillor, Paul Ainslie, tabled a motion to honor the great one by ordering City staff to look at a prominent Toronto street to be named after him. The city's executive committee agreed to study the proposal. Just last month, downtown councillor, Denzil Minnan-Wong, a son of prominent Chinese immigrants, proposed to name Union Station after Canada's great first prime minister.

I hope these proposals become successful in a timely manner.

In endorsing the naming of Union Station, Councillor Minnan-Wong said how "Union Station is a great monument to Sir John A. because he is known for his National Policy, for building a railway from coast to coast" and that it would be a "better place in terms of recognition of Sir John A. than Union Station, probably the most important railway station in the country."

There are many critics opposed to Sir John A. Macdonald for his well-documented racist views such as being passionately opposed to Asian immigration to Canada. According to the National Post, a University of Ottawa professor, Timothy Stanley, found records showing the late Prime Minister said in 1885 "if we allowed Chinese into Canada...the Aryan character of the future British America should be destroyed."

And that "if the Chinese were allowed to vote, 'they might control the vote of that whole province' and their 'Chinese representatives' would foist 'Asiatic principles,' 'immoralities,' and 'eccentricities' on the House, 'which are abhorent to the Aryan race and Aryand principles.'"

While these views are wrong by today's standard, I wonder if they were mainstream views more than a century ago. These were the old eras when Canadian women were seen as properties and when a slew of American heroes, including George Washington, were once proud owners of slaves.

While I acknowledge the former Prime Minister held some wrong-headed views, I believe his critics are being too harsh on him while ignoring his important role in confederation and Canadian federalism.

Let us compare one of Canada's beloved NDP leaders of past years, Tommy Douglas. Douglas was a Canadian hero himself who was born almost a century after the birth of the former Prime Minister.

Long before Douglas became a noted Saskatchewan Premier and father of Canada's sacred Medicare, he held an extremist view of human production. In his graduate thesis, according to the National Post, he argued how poverty is linked to "subnormal families, ones that are mentally inadequate -- 'anywhere from high-grade moron to mentally defective' -- of low moral character and/or a burden on the public purse."

The Post wrote that he continued to advocate for "sterilization of those deemed mentally defective or incurably diseased, arguing it is 'consummate folly' to let subnormal families 'bring in to the world large numbers of individuals to fill our jails and mental institutions and to live upon charity.'" Failing that, he advocated for "segregation of sub-normal families, and medical certification to ensure someone is mentally and physically fit before getting married."

In 2004, CBC named Tommy Douglas 'The Greatest Canadian of All Time." Why is there a double standard when it comes to Canada's very first and accomplished Prime Minister?


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