TORONTO - The plaza in front of Union Station will be named after Sir John A. Macdonald.
After almost nixing the idea entirely, council voted 21 to 15 on Wednesday to name the spot in front of the station after Canada’s first prime minister. The honour will come in time for the 200th anniversary of Macdonald’s birth in January.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong led the charge to name the plaza that is being redeveloped after Macdonald rather than his original suggestion to look at renaming Union Station.
“There is nobody more important in Canadian history than Sir John A. Macdonald — the founder of this country,” Minnan-Wong told council. “Without Sir John A. Macdonald we wouldn’t have this country.”
Councillor Pam McConnell’s push to cancel the proposal to name the plaza after Macdonald lost on a tie vote (18 to 18).
McConnell read council a speech by Macdonald about the Chinese labourers who helped build the railway.
“People’s lives were hurt through building of the railway,” she said.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam unsuccessfully urged council to put off approving the honour.
“It would be a grave mistake of this council, grave mistake to not look at the total history of this man,” Wong-Tam said.
Councillor John Parker urged his colleagues to “have some historical perspective.”
“Have some perspective on the contribution that Sir John A. Macdonald made to this country,” Parker said. “If we’re not careful, then we risk reexamining some other historical figures.”
Council also voted Wednesday to ban Mayor Rob Ford and any other member of council or city official from holding press conferences on city property without inviting all members of the City Hall press gallery.
Last week, Ford created controversy by having an invite-only press conference in his office when he returned from rehab. The move excluded several media outlets and led to an outcry from councillors.
Councillors voted 38 to 3 to approve Councillor Paula Fletcher’s motion mandating that all members of the City Hall press gallery be included at any media event held by the city, mayor or councillors on city property. Mayor Ford voted against the move along with Councillors Mike Del Grande and John Parker.
Parker tweeted out an explanation of his vote moments later.
“I have a general aversion to building up an inventory of little rules aimed at mandating good behaviour,” he stated.
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