A Charlottetown man who damaged a statue of Canada's first prime minister has received a conditional discharge, which means he will not have a criminal record.
Timothy Austin Gage Molyneaux, 23, pleaded guilty Thursday in provincial court in Charlottetown.
Defence lawyer Joel Wannacot told court his client is a civil rights activist, who has participated in peaceful marches and demonstrations. Wannocot told court Molyneaux's actions in damaging the statue were out of character, due in part, to his level of intoxication.
Crown prosecutor Jeffrey MacDonald told court police were called around 10:30 pm Sept. 7 to the corner of Queen and Richmond Streets, where a bronze statue of Sir John A. Macdonald is located. Police were told two men were pulling the statue out of place. Court heard police arrested Molyneaux due to his level of intoxication and charged him with mischief for damaging public property.
The day after the incident, Molyneaux spoke to CBC News about what happened.
"Something just clicked," said Molyneaux in the Sept. 8 interview, "Basically I just grabbed the bottom of the bench and heaved it. Just pulled a few times and came loose and I just tipped it over."
Molyneaux explained his actions by saying to CBC, "I don't think we should be celebrating a man like that in the way that we do. He's not a hero, he's a villain."
The statue — and others like it across Canada — have been the focus of protest in recent months, because of Macdonald's treatment of Indigenous people, and because he brought in the residential school system which led to the abuse of Indigenous children for generations.
In recent months, there have been calls to have the statue removed. In June, Charlottetown council voted to keep it — but pledged to start a dialogue with Indigenous groups about how to best present Macdonald's controversial history.
Judge Jeff Lantz put Molyneaux on probation for one year and ordered him to perform 20 hours of community service work. Molyneaux will avoid a criminal record. He was also ordered to pay $160 for the damage he caused and write a letter of apology.
Court heard the Molyneaux hopes to work for the Canadian Coast Guard, and a criminal record would hurt his job chances.
City staff have returned the statue to its usual spot and cleaned it off. The statue was also damaged in June, when red paint was dumped over it.
The statue remains in need of repair.
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