A statue of John A. Macdonald was wrapped in foam and strapped to a flat-bed truck in Victoria, B.C., on Aug. 11. (Megan Thomas/CBC) The Ontario government has deleted comments deemed offensive from an internal social media platform that were posted during a heated debate over the City of Victoria’s decision to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald.
A spokesperson for the province’s Treasury Board Secretariat said Ontario public servants were also warned by the Inclusion and Diversity Office to refrain from "inappropriate posts" on the internal Yammer social media platform.
"Recently, we were made aware of some Yammer comments that did not correspond with Ontario Public Service values and workplace culture," said Kate Vrancart, a spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat, in an emailed statement. "The offensive posts have been removed."
Yammer is used internally by Ontario public servants "to share work-related stories and ideas, and to create a more innovative and inclusive public service," said Vrancart.
"The Ontario Public Service is committed to maintaining an inclusive, diverse, equitable and respectful workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment," she said. Discussion sparked by statue removal
The Victoria city council voted 7-1 this summer to remove the statue of Macdonald from the steps of City Hall. The statue was removed on Aug. 11.
CBC News obtained a transcript of the Yammer conversation which went on for at least two days beginning Aug. 13 after a public servant with the Ministry of Health posted a link to a story about the statue’s removal with the comment, "revisionist history?"
The conversation included comments questioning the need for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and suggesting the Sixties Scoop was good thing because Indigenous children would have been "left to die" without it.
A financial analyst with the Ministry of Health in Kingston wrote it was "wrong to try to rewrite history" through the "lense" of the present.
"Just because you remove the statue does not change the world," the analyst wrote.
That view was supported by a registration service representative in Ontario’s land registry office in Thunder Bay.
"It’s not fair to view Macdonald, the founder of our country, through a social justice lense," the representative wrote.
"It was not good vs. evil. It was not oppressor vs. victim. It was two sides going at it with one eventually becoming victorious … If you asked me, the real question is: who won?" ‘I think re-writing history is OK’
The transcript of the Yammer debate revealed that these views were outnumbered by public servants who said the move was appropriate.
"I think re-writing history is OK … we can come to a better understanding of the history that actually happened," wrote a manager of enterprise web development with the Treasury Board Secretariat in Toronto.
"What about Indigenous people who lived at the same time as them? If we don’t consider their perspectives are we really viewing history in the context of the time?" Sir John A. Macdonald is shown in an undated photo. (National Archives of Canada/CP) A research advisor in the anti-racism directorate of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Toronto said re-examining the past was the best way to prevent history from repeating."If we continue to view history and judge it by the metrics of its time, we do not make any progress," the advisor wrote.The debate took a darker turn after someone raised the issue of historical transgressions committed against Indigenous Peoples, including residential schools and the Sixties Scoop — both cases where the state removed Indigenous children from their families.The Thunder Bay land registry worker said the Sixties Scoop was a good thing."Nothing leaves me more incredulous…That non-Aboriginals must now […]
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