Friday, February 07, 2014

Farber Vs. Gwyn On John A.

From Bernie's piece in The Star:

The latest hullaballoo around renaming Toronto’s Union Station after Sir John A. Macdonald should have and could have been avoided from the start. It simply boggles the mind that Toronto Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a savvy municipal politician, would have suggested such a change without engaging in at least some research.

From Richard Gwyn's defense in the same paper:

About John A. Macdonald two comments can be made with near certainty.

The first is that but for him no Canadians would be reading this article because no Canadians would exist to read it other than Americans who happened to live in the new state of that name.

Apparently, attacks on John A. are "shabby" and "opportunistic", but Mr. Gwyn declines to explain why.  I think the most important bit in either column is Bernie's reference to the newly published Clearing The Plains, by James Daschuk of the University of Regina:

In arresting, but harrowing, prose, James Daschuk examines the roles that Old World diseases, climate, and, most disturbingly, Canadian politics—the politics of ethnocide—played in the deaths and subjugation of thousands of aboriginal people in the realization of Sir John A. Macdonald’s “National Dream.”

Mr. Gwyn's piece would have benefited by directly engaging the claims in this book. I admit I have not read it (yet), but the fact that this kind of thing went on into the 1950s makes its claims plausible at least.

All of which is not particularly relevant to the renaming of Union Station.  That's just a dumb idea whatever the truth about John A.  It's just  Denzil  floating a few  balloons to get his name out front before he announces he's running for mayor.

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