Deliberation and Diplomacy: Statue Removals in Two Municipalities in Canada




Kielbiski, Corie

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In what seems to be a nascent culture of accountability, advocates across Canada, and beyond, are rallying against commemorative symbols, namely statues, to demand systemic change. Increasingly, conversations about removing statues are not just focused on outcomes, whether or not statues should stay or go, but about process – who and in what ways communities should be included within decision making. Democratic deliberation is often imagined as the most fair and just approach to resolving conflict together: the principles of inclusion, equality, and publicity ostensibly ensure that all who wish to share their opinions are heard. However, there are scholars who challenge these assumptions by focusing on the ways that historical injustice has caused structural, procedural, and behavioural discrimination that impacts whose opinions are shared or valued. Thus, contemporary scholars are interested in how deliberation can be modified, particularly within an age of reconciliation, to rectify these inequitable barriers. Because of where statues are situated, within municipal boundaries, it is local governments in Canada that are faced with addressing these complex questions. This research analyzes two distinct case studies of statue removals, the removal of the Edward Cornwallis monument in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the removal of the John A. Macdonald monument in Victoria, British Columbia, to understand the impacts of each distinct deliberative processes. Considering the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the principle of self-determination, this thesis shows that deliberating with Indigenous nations and representatives demands a new approach to deliberation, one that I call diplomatic deliberation.



Statue, Monument, Deliberation, Diplomacy, Reconciliation, Commemoration, Municipal, Democracy, Policy, Halifax, Victoria