A Toronto man charged in connection with the 2021 toppling of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in downtown Hamilton is no longer facing a mischief charge.
Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General revealed to Global News in an email that the Crown determined a stay in charges for the accused was appropriate after “very careful consideration.”
Read more: Toronto man facing charge in toppling of Sir John A. Macdonald statue at Hamilton’s Gore Park
Hamilton police laid the charge in August 2021 after “numerous tips from the public” helped investigators identify a 56-year-old suspect who was allegedly one of a couple of hundred who attended a planned Indigenous freedom rally at city hall and Gore Park.
Police say the estimated damage was in excess of $5,000 after spray paint, a hammer and a grinder were used by demonstrators on the statue once it was knocked to the ground.
The rally was in answer to a city council decision in July 2021 to keep the statue in place amid calls from some in the community to remove it.
Other Canadian cities, such as Kingston, Ont., and Charlottetown, removed their statues of Canada’s first prime minister in 2021 in light of his role in establishing the country’s residential school system.
Read more: Hamilton city council upholds vote against removing Sir John A. Macdonald statue from Gore Park
Prosecutors typically stay charges when there is no reasonable prospect of conviction, according to the province.
Counsel for the accused, Hamilton-based lawyer Charles Spettigue, told Global News his client “has strong views” around Mcdonald’s connection with the residential school system in Canada.
“I believe that the Crown made the right decision,” Spettigue said in an email.
“Criminalizing legitimate protest will never solve the bigger issue.”
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
— with files from Lisa Polewski
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