The Politics of SJAM and POGG in Hamilton

Joey Coleman/The Public Record

Peace, order and good government, Canadians love POGG.

Hamilton’s desperate city council hopes to make POGG versus the “social media mob” the ballot issue in 2022. As a political strategy, it is all this scandal-plagued Council has left.

This explains their 12-3 vote to keep the Sir John A Macdonald statue standing in Gore Park, hoping the “social media mob” tears it down.

This week alone:

On Monday, we learned it will cost around $150-million to clean up the environmental damage Cootes Paradise from the 24-billion litre sewage leak.

On Thursday, an auditor revealed City Hall senior managers are skirting competitive procurement rules by splitting large projects into multiple $149,900 contracts to exercise their authority to spend up to $150,000 without competitive bidding.

On Friday, Council voted to divert $30-million in federal gas tax funds into $2-million each for their ward “discretionary spending” accounts to spend during the 2022 municipal election. In order to spend their new slush funds before the election, Council voted to waive all procedural and procurement rules. So much for process!

Keeping the Macdonald statue in Gore Park goes against the national trend of removing monuments to Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Macdonald’s hometown of Kingston voted in June to remove their predominant monument and move it to a graveyard. In May, Charlottetown removed their monument, a tourist draw in the city that hosted the 1864 Conference that led to Canada’s creation.

Macdonald was Prime Minister of Canada from 1867 to 1873 and again from 1878 to 1891. He died in office in 1891. He is held responsible for his role in creating the residential school system to assimilate Indigenous peoples, a system that seized children and unsubjected them to unspeakable horrors. The discovery and ongoing documentations of unmarked graves of children who died in these schools sparked renewed calls to remove monuments to Macdonald.

Instead, Hamilton councillors clutched their pearls, declaring there needs to be a process, there needs to be a review, they cannot prejudge the review, and dammit, this is a Council that follows process!

“I do not support this. I support the proper process going forward”, said Ward 10’s Maria Pearson. “I have no problem in supporting the installation of a statue that recognizes the atrocities that have occurred and affording an opportunity for the public to understand and know, so everybody understands that.”

“I did put forward a motion to develop an art in public places and monuments review process, that was in 2017”, said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The policy “clearly sets out, you know, a comprehensive process in collaboration and dialogue with Indigenous communities, on all of these matters that are before us, not just some.”

“We are simply just following due diligence based on the existing policies of the City of Hamilton of naming our own facilities,” said Ward 4’s Sam Merulla on the related motion to remove Egerton Ryerson’s name from the City recreation centre attached to what was recently known as Ryerson elementary school.

“We have a process in place … that’s all,” Merulla continued. “The process is there … so I’m not sure why we would take this one-off outside of that process that we established years ago.”

Council is “investing over $70,000 to a city-wide review of monuments and names and report backward recommendations. That is a prudent decision. I fully support that work”, said Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko. “I believe that a comprehensive approach is consistent with my personal focus to try to reach evidence-based decision making.”

Council is hiring First Peoples Group to review the merits of keeping the monument in place. FPG recommended the removal of Kingston’s monument.

Hamilton Council’s vote indicates they believe FPG will determine the statue in Hamilton is more historically relevant than both Kingston and Charlottetown.

Canadians are political centrists, and they love peace, order and good government. Public opinion polls show a strong majority rejects tearing down statues and monuments.

Hamiltonians are especially centralists.

Lincoln Alexander and Ellen Fairclough were Red Tory Conservatives.

Long-serving NDP politicians David Christopherson, Bob Mackenzie, and Andrea Horwath are centre-left members of the NDP. (Christopherson famously voted his conscience to support a Conservation motion on the Canada Summer Jobs attestation in 2018).

Hamilton’s monarchists and historians are quiet about the statue, reflective of POGG centralism.

Council wants social media flooded with pictures of a mob tearing down the Macdonald statue. The more shock value, the better for Council to channel into their desired political narrative.

The question now, does Council get what it wants?

Or do activists place a new veil over the statue, forcing Council to address the white nationalists who will return to remove the veil – turning POGG against Council and placing them in a box, at least until they put the statue into one instead.

One thought on “The Politics of SJAM and POGG in Hamilton

  1. Get rid of all the monuments. Who really looks at them or pays any attention. I am more concerned about the division is this city. Why is it we are listening to a small crowd of people who want to control everything. No one likes racists or bad people. They will be called out and dealt with. Most people live busy lives and don’t have time to pay attention to these issues because they are working jobs and raising families. Let’s just all get along. We will all not agree that’s why we live in a democracy.

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