Statue of Sir John A. Macdonald proves major centre of attention
The bronze statue of Sir John A. Macdonald relaxing on a Charlottetown park bench at the corner of Victoria Row and Lower Queen has become a major attraction for both Islanders and visitors. Our first prime minister has become a favourite backdrop for photos as people pose for both the humorous and the serious pictures with Sir John A.
Its presence in the historic area near Province House has certainly added to the ambience of the downtown. Now a call has gone out for artists to create a bronze sculpture of two more Fathers of Confederation to be placed on Great George Street in Charlottetown. Ironically, both have the same name — John Hamilton Gray — one from P.E.I. and one from New Brunswick. The P.E.I. father was premier while the Charlottetown Conference was underway and the plan is to have a sculpture of both of them in this one new piece of artwork.
It’s a good idea, with the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference coming up next year, to have more nation-builders recognized.
The Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, with funding from the P.E.I. 2014 organization and private partner The Great George Inn, have jointly issued the call for proposals from artists to create this permanent exhibit.
There will be an interpretive panel to explain what it’s all about but the main element is a statue featuring the two Sir John Hamilton Grays.
There won’t be anything trivial with the tender which is expected to cost more than $100,000. The artwork will be placed across the street from St. Dunstan’s Basilica by the fall of 2014, hopefully in time for the actual 150th anniversary date of the Charlottetown Conference.
CADC says there are no long-term plans for additional busts or statues on the streets near Province House, but that should not be the end of this salute to our nation-builders. Other Islanders who have earned the designation as a Father of Confederation should be considered for future statue recognition such as George Coles, Thomas Heath Haviland, Andrew Archibald Macdonald, Edward Palmer, Edward Whelan and William Henry Pope.
Harb’s exit an example for others
The sudden departure of Mac Harb from the Senate must be welcome news for the federal Liberal caucus meeting this week on P.E.I. Harb, who resigned from the Liberal caucus in May following an RCMP probe into his housing claims, was a lingering embarrassment for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his caucus.
Trudeau made the questionable comment that he would welcome Harb back into the Liberal fold once he settled his expenses issue. Harb finally did the right thing Monday by repaying a total of $231,649 in expense claims and resigning from the Senate.
In departing, Harb said “most senators made similar claims” and blamed unfair treatment by a Conservative-dominated committee. He said the Auditor General’s investigation, due to be completed in 2015, will vindicate him, but if he really believed that there is no way he would have repaid that huge sum, and step down.
Before one feels too sorry for Harb, he’s eligible for an annual federal pension estimated at $122,989, based on his time as an MP and as a senator.
Harb is one of four senators whose cases were referred to the RCMP after a Senate committee asked each to repay certain expenses. Former Conservatives Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin now sit as independents, but as Harb quickly found out, they are no longer effective in that role. It’s best for all concerned they follow Harb’s example, do the honourable thing and resign.