I have read media reports of the 29-3 law faculty/staff vote to delete the name of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, from the law building.
This outcome reflects an incomplete—if not a downright poor—understanding of Canadian history while providing another example of the presentism that is now far too common. Universities, in particular, have a responsibility to demonstrate intellectual rigor and historical balance, and both are wanting in the law faculty vote. Without Macdonald, Canada would not have emerged as an independent nation on the northern half of the North America continent. His good name and legacy within his home town of Kingston deserve better.
I hope that the Queen’s Board of Trustees declines to act on this vote and instead reaffirms the naming of Macdonald Hall as the home of the Faculty of Law.
OC, QC, LL.B.,LL.D. (Queen’s)
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