Sir John A. Macdonald working group underway to determine fate of contested statue

Holding Court. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)



During the last Regular Council Meeting, the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee’s (PEHAC) report including the contentious Sir John A. Macdonald Working Group Terms of Reference. The working group’s terms of reference were received without comment from council.

The goals and purpose of the working group are stated as follows:

  1. Follow the scope of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 10 Principles of Truth and Reconciliation.
  2. Conduct research, carry out surveys and prepare documentation, as necessary, to assist the Heritage Advisory Committee in their recommendation to assist Council in their decision on the future of “The Holding Court” John A. Macdonald statue.
  3. Assist staff to provide a report to Council by September 1, 2020, or as soon as feasible, outlining a recommendation for the future of the “Holding Court” John A. Macdonald statue.

As outlined in their terms of reference, membership includes:

  1. Two (2), or more Heritage Advisory Committee Member(s). The Chair of the Working Group will be a member of the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee.
  2. A representative(s) of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
  3. A representative(s) of All Welcome Here
  4. A public representative determined by the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee.
  5. A representative of the Sir John A. Macdonald Project
  6. A representative of the Museum Advisory committee member
  7. Committee may terminate the appointment of any member without notice, and may add additional members up to a maximum of 10, as needed.

Local resident Paul Allen expressed concern about the composition of the working group’s membership. In particular, Allen argued that any member of the Macdonald project-the group who paid for and commissioned the statue-should not allowed to also be a member of the working group that will ultimately decide the fate of the statue.

Allen noted that the working group will vote on what recommendations to make to PEHAC, as well as most likely voting on important procedural motions such as who to consult with, how consultation should be done and how to share the group’s progress publicly.

“There may not always be unanimity, so it’s important to get the group membership right,” he said.

Allen also pointed out that at the initial PEHAC meeting to discuss the working group terms of reference, there was concern from several members of the public at the consideration of appointing a member of the Macdonald Project.

“At last week’s meeting, several members of the audience, including myself, expressed concern that representatives of the Macdonald Project would have a conflict of interest in this matter and should not be appointed to the working group,” he stated.

While arguing that members of the Macdonald Project should not also be members of the working group, Allen insisted that it would still be possible for members of the Macdonald Project to have some input.

“Representatives of the Macdonald Project should be welcome to have input into the working group-really as much input as they want, but they shouldn’t sit as a member of the committee,” asserted Allen.

As stated in the terms of reference, council will be provided with a report by September 1, 2020 with recommendations for the future of the “Holding Court” Sir John A. Macdonald statue that currently sits prominently on Picton Main Street.