House of Commons, 2 May 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba



Monday, May 2, 1870

The Speaker took the chair at three o'clock.


Hon. Mr. Tilley in the absence of the Hon. Sir Francis Hincks, presented the eleventh report of the Committee on Public Accounts, containing the following resolution adopted by the Committee—That as it appears there are great irregularities in the return of mileage, in some cases amounting to a difference of 100 miles with the members residing in the same place, the attention of both Houses is drawn to this fact with a view to connecting the distances, so that the actual distances travelled shall be paid and no more.
Hon. Mr. Langevin presented the returns to various addresses adopted by the House.


Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—I rise, sir with the consent of the House, to submit the result of our deliberations for the framing of a constitution for the country heretofore known as Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory. In moving for leave to introduce this Bill, of which I have given notice, I may premise by stating that there has been a discussion going on as to whether we should have a Territory or a Province. The answer we made on behalf of the Canadian Government was that such a thing as a Territory was not known to the British colonial system, that the expression was not recognized, that the expression was Colony or Province, and that we thought it would be better to adhere to the old and well known form of expression—well known to us as Colonists of the Empire—and not bring a new description into our statute book. It was not, of course, a matter of any serious importance whether the country was called a Province or a Territory. We have Provinces of all sizes, shapes and constitutions; there are very few Colonies with precisely the same constitution in all particulars, so that there could not be anything determined by the use of the word. Then the next question discussed was the name of the Province. It was thought that was a matter of taste and should be considered with reference to euphony and with reference also as much as possible to the remembrance of the original inhabitants of that vast country. Fortunately the Indian languages of that section 1298 of the country give us a choice of euphonious names and it is considered proper that the Province which is to be organized, shall be called Manitoba. The name Assiniboia, by which it has hitherto been called, is considered to be rather too long, involving confusion, too, between the river Assiniboine and the Province Assiniboia. I suppose, therefore, there will be no objection to the name that has been fixed upon, which is euphonious enough in itself, and is an old Indian name, meaning "The God who speaks—the speaking God." There is a fine lake there called Lake Manitoba, which forms the western boundary of the Province. A subject of very great importance, which engaged much of our consideration, was the settlement of the boundaries of the Province we are organizing. It is obvious that that vast country could not be formed into one Province. It is obvious that the Dominion Government and the Dominion Parliament must retain, for Dominion purposes, the vast section of that country, which is altogether or nearly without inhabitants, and that the Province must be confined to the more settled country that now exists. We found happily that there was no great difficulty in regard to this matter, that there was no discussion upon the subject, and I may read a description of the boundaries that have been settled upon. "The region which is to form the new Province of Manitoba commences at a point on the frontier of the United States Territory, 96 degrees West of Greenwich, and extends to a point 98 degrees and 15 minutes West, being bounded on the South by 49th parallel of latitude, and on the North by latitude 50 degrees and 30 minutes." He here placed a map on the table showing the boundaries of the new Province and the members gathered round to examine it.
Hon. Col. Gray—How many square miles are there in the new Province?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—Eleven thousand square miles. It is a small Province as the House will observe, but yet it contains the principal part of the settlements which are ranged, as those who have studied the matter know, along the banks of Red River and the banks of Assiniboine from the point of their confluence at or near Fort Garry up westward towards Lake Manitoba. One of the clauses of the Bill which I propose to lay before the House, but which is not yet in such a position as to go into the printer's hands preparatory to the second reading, provides that such portions of the North-West Territory, as are not included in this Province, shall be governed as an unorganized tract by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, under a separate Commission 1299 under the Great Seal of the Dominion, and that until they are settled and organized they shall be governed by Orders in Council.
Mr. Mackenzie—Does the Bill provide a Constitution for that territory?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—No. It simply provides that the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba shall be Governor of the remaining portion of the Territory under directions of Orders in Council, and action upon separate commission issued under the Great Seal. In settling the Constitution of the Province the question of how far representative institutions should be properly conferred at this time has been fully discussed. The House knows that this subject was discussed last summer by the press in all parts of Canada, and that there was a good deal of objection that the Bill of last Session, provisional as it was, and intended to last only a few months, did not provide representative institutions for the people of that Territory. That Bill provided that the Lieutenant Governor should have an Executive Council, and that that Council should have power to make laws, subject, of course, to the veto power, the paramount power of the Governor General here. It was passed simply for the purpose of having something like an organization ready, something like the rudiments of a Government, from the time the Territory was admitted into the Dominion, it being understood that the Act should continue in force only until the end of the present session of Parliament. On the introduction of that Bill by the Government, it was received in that particular, and I think in every particular, with the almost unanimous sanction and approval of Parliament. The Government felt they were not in a position from acquaintance with the circumstances of the country and wants of its people, to settle anything like a fixed constitution upon the Territory. They thought it, therefore, better that they should merely pass a temporary Act to last for a few months providing for the appointment of a Lieutenant Governor, for which office my hon. friend from North Lanark was selected, who, when he arrived upon the spot, would have an opportunity of reporting upon the requirements of the country, and after discussing the matter with the principal men of the settlement, to suggest what kind of institutions were best suited to those requirements. Unfortunately no opportunity was offered for entering into that discussion or getting that information. One result, however, of the enquiry that was instituted in this country, was to pour a flood of light upon the Territory, and I have no doubt every hon. member of this House has taken advantage of 1300 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 it so as to enable him, with a greater degree of certainty, to approach the subject of what the Constitution ought to be. Besides that we have discussed the proposed Constitution with such persons who have been in the North-West as we have had an opportunity of meeting, and the result has been as I will shortly describe. In the first place, as regards the representation of the Province of Manitoba in the Dominion Parliament, the proposition of the Government is that the people of the Province shall be represented in the Senate by two members until the Province shall have a population at a decennial census of 50,000. From thenceforth the people there shall have representation in the Senate of three members; and subsequently, when the population shall amount to 75,000, they shall have representation of four members. That will give them the same representation in the upper House of the Dominion Legislature as has been proposed for Prince Edward's Island, and agreed to by the representatives of that Province at the Quebec conference—Prince Edward's Island being the smallest of the Provinces, having a population of about 85,000. The Bill does not provide for any increase of numbers beyond four. It is not likely that, in our day at any rate, the Province will have a population which will entitle it to more. With respect to its representation in the House of Commons, it is proposed that it shall have four members in this House—the Governor General having, for that purpose, power to separate and divide the whole of the Province into four electoral districts, each containing as nearly as possible an equal number of the present community of settlers. The executive power of the Province will, of course, as in all the other Provinces of the Dominion, be vested in a Lieutenant Governor, who shall be appointed like the other Lieutenant Governors, by Commission from the Governor General, under the Great Seal of the Dominion. He shall have an Executive Council, which shall be composed of seven persons, holding such offices as the Lieutenant Governor shall, from time to time, think fit, and, in the first instance, shall not exceed five in number. The meetings of the Legislature until otherwise ordered by the Legislature itself, shall be held at Fort Garry, or within a mile of it. With respect to the Legislative body, there was considerable difficulty and long discussion whether it should consist of one chamber or two; whether, if one chamber, it should be composed of the representatives of the people and of persons appointed by the Crown, or Local Government, or whether they should be severed and the two chambers constituted— all these questions were fully discussed. After mature consideration, it was agreed that there should be two chambers. I see my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. McDougall) laughs, but, being a true 1301 liberal, he will not object to the people having a voice in the settlement of their own Constitution and to determine whether they shall have one or two chambers or even three if it suits their purpose to have them. It is proposed then to have two chambers, but the Legislative Council is not a very formidable one. It is to be composed in the first place of seven members. After the expiration of four years it may be increased to twelve, but not more than that number. The object of making that provision is this, that we could not well have a smaller Legislative body than seven; and yet it might be well that the Government of the day—the Lieutenant Governor having a responsible Ministry—have the power of meeting the difficulty arising from a possible deadlock between the two chambers—the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. It is therefore proposed that after the end of the first four years—after the first Parliament of the Province, the Lieutenant Governor may if he thinks proper upon the advice of his Executive Council, who have the confidence of the people and of their representatives, increase the number up to twelve. The Legislative Assembly shall be composed of a body of twenty-four members—the Lieutenant Governor dividing the Province for that purpose into twenty-four Electoral Districts having due regard to the various communities into which the settlement is at present divided. All these clauses and stipulations are, of course, subject to alterations by the people themselves, except so far as they relate to the appointment of the Lieutenant Governor, which, of course, rests upon the same authority as in the other Provinces of the Dominion. In all other respects they may alter their Constitutions as they please. It is provided in the Bill that all the clauses of the British North America Act, excepting as altered by the Bill itself, or excepting those clauses which apply only to one or two Provinces, and not to the whole of the Provinces, shall apply to the new Province. The Bill contains various other clauses with which I will not now trouble the House because they refer to matters of no great interest, except as they are requisite to carry on the machinery of the Executive and Legislative bodies. Until the Legislature otherwise provides, the qualification of voters for members both of the House of Commons and Local Legislatures shall be the same as provided by the Confederation Act for the District of Algoma. I think the House will agree with me that no other qualification can be provided. The clause runs that every British subject who has attained the age of 21 years, and who is and has been a householder for one year, shall have a right to vote. The duration of the Legislative Assembly shall be four years, as in the other Provinces.
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Mr. Mackenzie—What is the qualification of candidates?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—We have said nothing of that in the Bill. With respect to pecuniary clauses of the Bill it is provided that as Manitoba has fortunately no debts it shall be entitled to be paid by and receive from Canada by half-yearly payments a sum which is to be ascertained in the same way as the sum settled was on Newfoundland last session— that is, fixing the whole of the population at 15,000, and at that rate comparing the difference between that population and the population of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, any body can ascertain the amount payable to them per head, namely, $27.27. The Bill then proposes that the same annual subsidy of 80 cents per head of the population, estimating it at 15,000, shall be paid as in other Provinces, and that that rate shall continue until the population is 400,000 also as in other Provinces. There is the further provision that the sum of $30,000 shall be paid for the support of the Government. Although it is not at all required that the next clause should be in the Act, yet it is inserted for the same reasons as it was inserted in the Act respecting Newfoundland, in order to satisfy the people that certain services will be provided for, those services being thrown on the Dominion Government by the Confederation Act, such as the salary of the Lieutenant Governor, postal service, collection of Customs, etc. There are also provisions to satisfy the mixed population of the country inserted in the Bill for the same reason, although it will be quite in the power of the Local Legislature to deal with them. They provide that either the French or English language may be used in the proceedings of the Legislature, and that both of them shall be used in records and journals of both Chambers. That provision as far as the Province of Quebec is concerned, is contained in the Union Act. With respect to the lands that are included in the Province, the next clause provides that such of them as do not now belong to individuals, shall belong to the Dominion of Canada, the same being within boundaries already described. There shall, however, out of the lands there, be a reservation for the purpose of extinguishing the Indian title, of 1,200,000 acres. That land is to be appropriated as a reservation for the purpose of settlement by half-breeds and their children of whatever origin on very much the same principle as lands were appropriated to U. E. Loyalists for purposes of settlement by their children. This reservation, as I have said, is for the purpose of extinguishing the Indian title and all claims upon the lands with the limits of the Province. There is a question, however, which, although small in itself, 1303 excites a great deal of interest among the purely white inhabitants, the descendants of the Scotch and English settlers, who are not half-breeds and do not come within this category. It is, perhaps, not known to a majority of this House that the old Indian titles are not extinguished over any portion of this country, except for two miles on each side of the Red River and the Assiniboine. The lands that have been granted by deed or license of occupation by the Hudson's Bay Company, run from the water or river bank on each side for two miles. But from a practice that has arisen from necessity, and that has been recognized by the local laws there, in the rear of each of these farms or tracts of land held by the farmers or settlers, there is a right of cutting hay for two miles immediately beyond their lots. That is a well understood right. It is absolutely required by these people and excites in them equal interest. The entire extent and value of those rights cannot be well established or fixed here, and it is therefore proposed to invoke the assistance of the Local Legislature in that respect, and to empower it to provide, with the express sanction of the Governor General, for the use in common of such lands by those inhabitants who may wish to avail themselves of it. My hon. friend, (Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier) reminds me of the question of the confirmation of the legal occupation of the people there. It is so obviously the interest of the people of this country to settle that Territory as quietly as possible, that it would be a most unwise policy for a new Government to create any difficulties as to the rights of property—it would be most unwise to allow those difficulties to arise which might spring from one man having a title to a freehold, while his neighbor would only have to say he held under a lease of occupation. But as these settlers are not numerous, and it is of great importance that they should be satisfied, it is proposed to insert a clause in the Bill, confirming all titles of peaceable occupation to the people now actually resident upon the soil. But in the absence of necessary information here, it is proposed to invoke the aid and intervention, the experience of the Local Legislature upon this point, subject to the sanction of the Governor General. The Government hope and believe that this measure or a measure involving the principle which I just mentioned will be satisfactory to the people of all classes and races in that country. This Bill contains very few provisions, but not too few for the object to be gained, which is the quiet and peaceable acceptance of the new state of things by the mass of the people there and the speedy settlement of the country by hardy emigrants from all parts of the civilized world. While, Sir, we believe that this measure will receive the acceptance of the people of the 1304 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 North-West, that it will be hailed as a boon and convincing proof of the liberality of the people and the Legislature of the Dominion, while we believe it will have that effect, it is quite clear that order must be restored; that peace must be kept in that country; and that the Government, which in future is to obtain control there, must be respected. It is necessary, also, that the fears of an Indian war and foreign aggression, which have been raised, very naturally, in the minds of the people of that country, from recent unhappy events, should be allayed. For all these reasons it is fitting and proper that a force should be there to cause law and order to be respected. I am glad to say that events have recently resulted in an arrangement, by which, for the purposes I have mentioned, and in no hostile spirit, but with the desire, and the resolve at the same time, to establish law, and peace, and order—an arrangement, I say, has been made between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Canada for the despatch of an expedition. That expedition will be a mixed one, comprised partly of Her Majesty's regular troops, and partly of Canadian Militia, and from all those whom we have had an opportunity of seeing from the North-West, we are told that a force sent in that spirit, and commanded by an officer of Her Majesty's service, under Her Majesty's sanction, will be received not only with kindness, but with gladness, and that the people will be glad to retain them much longer than as a force there will be any necessity for their staying. For so soon as these unfortunate feelings of fear and jealousy are removed, it will be of course proper that a force should be on as economical and limited a scale as due regard for peace and order will permit. These arrangements must of course be submitted to Parliament, and a vote of the House sanctioning the necessary expenditure obtained. For this object, I have no doubt, such a vote will be obtained. The force will be comprised of about one-fourth of Her Majesty's regular troops, and three-fourths Canadian Militia, and the expenditure will be borne in the same proportion, Her Majesty's Government paying one-fourth of the expenditure and the Dominion three-fourths. My hon. friend beside me (Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier) reminds me that since the written arrangement was entered into, which I have just mentioned, a proposition was made to increase Her Majesty's contingent by perhaps 140, making the number of regular troops about 300, the balance being made up of Canadian Militia. This Militia was called upon to volunteer from different districts, and such has been the alacrity displayed, that if a force was proposed to assume the proportion of an army there would be no trouble in getting the men. Happily that necessity does not, I am fain to believe, exist. It 1305 was only on Saturday that the final arrangement with respect to this force was carried out, and the House therefore could not any earlier than now receive this information. On Saturday the Order in Council was passed embodying the provisions I have mentioned. The cable has been in active operation on this subject for some considerable time, but it is only within a few days that the final arrangements I have indicated were made. When this measure comes up for the second reading, and when the resolutions are proposed in Committee of the Whole, of course, explanations will be given in full detail upon every possible head of expenditure. I now move the first reading of the Bill.
Mr. Mackenzie said it was manifestly impossible to discuss the Bill at that time, but he looked upon the whole proposal of the Government as one that was open to great objection, and that the whole course taken in the North- West matter was one exceedingly disastrous to the country. The House was informed at the beginning of the session that the Government had declined taking possession of the country, and had not paid the amount agreed to with the Hudson's Bay Company, in order to throw the expense of settling the disputes on the Imperial Government, and to force them to take possession for us, and to hand it over to us as a new purchase. He had always looked upon the Territory as their own, and the payment as a payment simply to obtain a quit claim deed to us of that Territory. He looked upon the proposal of the Government as most reprehensible, and calculated to bring our Government and people into dispute with Imperial statesmen, as a refusal, under the circumstances, they had no right to make. He was now convinced, after much careful examination of the evidence of every one who had come from that Territory, that had the proposition been carried out, with good faith, that insurrection, with all its consequent troubles, disasters and murder would have been avoided. In consequence of this conduct of the Government, they had been threatened with a war of races and nations, and now as the result of all this political tergiversation and bad faith, the pitiable compensation of the Imperial Government being willing to pay one-quarter part of the expenses attending the restoration of Government. This showed more than anything he could name the results of the policy the Government pursued, and the want of national faith which had characterized the Government in their dealing. With regard to the Government of the country he must of course examine the Bill in detail before he could venture even to give an opinion as to its merits, but it did seem a little ludicrous to establish a little municipality in the North-West of 10,000 square 1306 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 miles—about the size of two or three counties in Ontario—with a population of 15,000 people, having two Chambers, and a right to send two members to the Senate and four to the House here, (laughter). The whole thing had such a ludicrous look that it only put one in mind of some of the incidents in Gulliver's Travels. It may be on more close investigation that more palliating circumstances might be brought to light for this extraordinary Constitution, but at the present moment he could only say that he looked upon it as one of the most preposterous schemes that was ever submitted to the Legislature. There were one or two matters in Sir John A. Macdonald's statement to which he would refer. He had told the House about the land policy, no further than this, that lands in occupation held under license or agreement of the Hudson's Bay Company, were to be retained by those in possession or the present local authorities, while the Dominion are to exercise control over the remainder of the Territory. A certain portion is to be set aside to settle Indian claims and another portion to settle Indian claims that the half-breeds have. But these half-breeds were either Indians or not, (hear). They were not looked upon as Indians, some had been to Ottawa, and given evidence, and did not consider themselves Indians. They were regularly settled upon farms, and what the object could be in making some special provision for them that was not made for other inhabitants was more than he could well understand. They were also told that that clause in the Bill was to affirm all grants of lands, licenses and other claims granted by the Hudson's Bay Company. They were unable to pronounce an opinion upon the particular kind of claims embraced, but if his information was correct the Hudson's Bay Company had dealt with a certain portion of the lands in that Territory in a way which we could not possibly justify nor recognize. If they had so dealt with lands as to bestow on certain corporations whether secular or religious, or tracts of land that would interfere with the settlement of the country—that question had to be met by the House if the Government had not had the moral courage to deal with it, (hear). He had no hesitation in saying that the statement made by the Premier was in that respect most unsatisfactory or at best exceedingly incomplete, (hear). He had seen it stated in papers that a gentleman who had been employed under the Lieutenant Governor—
Hon. Mr. McDougall—No.
Mr. Mackenzie said that he was being employed by the Government to purchase stores and organizing a corps of mounted police, but they had received no statement on 1307 the point by the honourable gentleman, and in the absence of any answers he would not comment upon the fact at present. There was another point to which the honourable gentleman had not referred. He had not said whether the Government had paid the money to the Hudson's Bay Company. Without waiting for a formal answer might he ask that information now?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—It has not been paid, but it is to be paid immediately.
Hon. Mr. McDougall—Before the expedition starts?
Mr. Mackenzie—I presume before the Bill passes this House.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—Yes.
Mr. Mackenzie was glad of it; and would be ready to support the Government in it, and could only regret that it was not made sooner, (hear). He trusted that the Government would bring down such a statement as to the claims which were to be recognized in the clauses of the Bill, because in absence of the knowledge as to the extent of these claims it was manifestly impossible to pass any such claims. Everything must be done so as to retain the liberty of every class and creed of Her Majesty's subjects on the same footing and that no one shall have any special claims or privileges recognized in that new Territory. He would look with very grievous apprehension on anything that would introduce into that new Territory the divisions which were for so many years so disastrous in our own country (hear), and which kept many of the denominations concerned in these disputes in a state of internecine warfare, which produced results so disastrous to society generally, and particularly to the churches engaged. Anything that had the effect of preventing this, we must insist on here, and that no legislation shall be initiated by this House, which has a tendency to initiate, permit or perpetuate anything of that sort. (Cheers.) If this was provided for it would of course obviate some of the objections to many clauses of the Bill. With regard, however, to the excessive expenditure which was to be imposed upon the Dominion by the arrangements of the Bill, it involved an amount of debt of $416,500.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier—$21,000 a year.
Mr. Mackenzie—Yes. There would then be $12,000 to make up the 50 cents per head, and in addition the Government propose to pay annually $30,000, for Local Government. He could scarcely conceive that that amount was neces 1308 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 sary. (Hear.) He thought if the amount was capitalized it would admirably provide for the interest of the Province. Roads were not required there as they were in other districts, and the expenses for building would not at all compare with that which was imposed on larger Provinces. If they were to carry on Government economically, it must be in the shape rather of one large Municipal Council, than a Provincial Government. He should discuss the Bill more particularly when they had it before them, but it was necessary that the House should be in possession of all information the Government had had in preparing to discuss the measure. It was certainly unfair, that certain members of the House should be in possession of M. Thibault's report, which he understood, had been in print a fortnight.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—I can only say that it was not by the sanction of the Government.
Hon. Mr. Morris said it had not been even sent to the printers a fortnight ago.
Mr. Mackenzie said, at any rate he had known it was in the possession of members, and the way the House was treated in this matter was only on a par with their treatment from first to last. In the whole question, the conduct of the Government was most extraordinary, and he could not refrain from charging the Government with having, by their misconduct of this matter, thrown an enormous expense on the country, brought the Government into disrepute with the Imperial authorities (hear) and that, in refusing to keep faith in carrying out an agreement for a territory, which we have always regarded as our own, they have plunged us into expenses which we cannot possibly conceive, (hear).
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said it would have been more opportune to have taken the objections at the second reading, rather than now. He himself would not enter on the merits of the Bill, but make a few prefatory observations in answer to those of the member for Lambton. He had found fault with the Constitution of the Territory, and there being two Houses for so small a portion of the Territory. He referred to Prince Edward Island, with its population of only 85,000, and an area of only 1,300,000 acres, which, from the first, had a political organization and all the machinery of a Government, and to New Brunswick, which, at the time of its separation from Nova Scotia, had a population not larger than that of Nova Scotia. Manitoba was the key to the whole territory, and when they had defined its limits they had done a good work. This Bill had, as it 1309 were, disclosed the policy of the Government, for it was evident there was room between Ontario and the Rocky Mountains for several Provinces, and Manitoba was made the model or starting point for the Provinces to be erected to the Pacific Ocean. As to the objection that there was too large a subsidy, he said the new Province was entitled to be placed on the same footing as any other. If the people had waited till they were 50,000 or 75,000, instead of being entitled to $21,000 a year from the Government, they would have been entitled to double or perhaps treble that amount. There was room in the Territory for a million of inhabitants, and yet for some time all the expenditure for this would be only $21,000 for local wants, and a subsidy of $30,000 a year for the Local Government. The land, except 1,200,000 acres, was under the control of the Government, and these were held for the purpose of extinguishing the claims of the half-breeds, which it was desirous not to leave unsettled, as they had been the first settlers, and made the Territory. These lands were not to be dealt with as the Indian reserves, but were to be given to the heads of families to settle their children. The policy, after settling these claims, was to give away the land so as to fill up the country. As it did so emigration would go westward, fill up other portions of the Territory, and so the grand scheme of Confederation would be carried out. Instead of, as in Newfoundland, where they were to pay $150,000 a year for these lands, those in the North-West had been given up for nothing. It must be in the contemplation of the members of the House that these could be used for the construction of the British Pacific Railway from the East to the West, and yet the member for Lambton complained of the grant of $30,000 at the beginning of the existence of the Province. Then they were to get 80 cents a head till the population amounted to 400,000, and at the greatest estimate there never would be more than $425,000 a year ever going to that Province, and that not for many years hence, but the sooner the better, as the greater would be the contributions to the exchequer. The population was now only 15,000, but the consumption was not for them alone, but for 200,000 Indians, who consumed an immense quantity of dutiable articles. After a few other observations, in which he said he would not enter into the question of the appointment of an officer of constabulary, he stated that he believed, when the member for Lambton read the Bill carefully, he would recognize the wisdom of its provisions.
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Mr. Mackenzie said he had not entered into any explanation as to the mounted police, and the appointment of Captain Cameron.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said that it was intended to have a body of mounted rifles to protect the people from the chance of an Indian war. Under the beneficient rule of the Hudson's Bay Company there was peace in the Territory, while across the line there were frequent wars, and the Indians were shot down by emigrants going West—shot down ruthlessly. As the expectation was that there would be a large influx of emigrants from Europe or from Canada, and there was a fear that emigrants from the American States, accustomed to deal with the Indians as enemies, would be shooting them down and causing great disturbances, the necessity arose to have a small but active force of cavalry to act as mounted police, so that they could move rapidly along the frontier to repress disturbances; and it was not proposed to make the force more than 200 men. They would be drilled as cavalry, or rather as mounted riflemen, and be disciplined as a military body, but act as constabulary. Such a force would be amply sufficient for the purpose, and be enough to secure order.
Mr. Mackenzie said that the question as to whether Captain Cameron was employed had not been answered. If he was raising a force, how and where was he doing so?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said Captain Cameron had not received a commission. The Government had employed Mr. McMicken and Mr. Coursol, as Police Commissioners, the latter of whom was engaging men in Lower Canada speaking French, and able to read and write, and to speak both French and English if possible. He intended to raise 50 men in Canada altogether, and 150 more in the Territory, commingling the different races, as had been done in India so successfully. It was the best force that could be raised, and by the commingling no predominance would be given to either.
Mr. Mackenzie said he was glad to find that the Government had not employed Capt. Cameron.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said he did not say that. He said that a Commission had not been issued. He might say, however, that he was a most efficient officer.
Mr. Mackenzie said he might be in his own place, but not in the position proposed. He had a further question to ask. A number of persons had lost their all in these disturbances, and had 1311 all their goods seized and used. Were they to receive compensation?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said he did not know what he meant. He did not see how this House could deal with such a question. That might be a matter to be settled in England.
Mr. Mackenzie did not see how they could go to England for compensation. He presumed they would not deny some remedy should be provided.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said they had not yet reached that point, as this Bill was simply one for the Government of the country. The other was a separate matter, and would be so considered either here or in England, but it was premature to discuss it now.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier explained in French, in the course of which,
Mr. Godin asked if the Constitution was to be submitted to the people before being passed.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier—No.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said he spoke with some reluctance on account of the position he had unfortunately held with respect to the Territory. With respect to the Bill, he might say he was both pleased and displeased. Pleased at its having been brought down, and displeased at its unsatisfactory character. It must be displeasing to every one to know that the bargain settled with the three Governments, had been refused to be carried out on the pretence of the motive, which it was said actuated the Government. It was known that the reason given was that the Government desired to compel the Imperial Government to put them in peaceable possession of the country. They had been so far successful that the Imperial Government had promised to send 200 or 300 troops into the country and to pay one-fourth of the expenses. He apprehended there would be some condition attached to that agreement which would probably lessen its value to this country. Were they to understand that the Imperial Government agreed to pay one-fourth of all the expense, no matter what might be the extravagance of our Government? Were they to bear one-fourth of the expense of constructing boats, many of which were constructed in Lower Canada upon the miserable rule that everything done must be distributed between French and English? The transportation of these boats to Collingwood would cost as much as the boats themselves. Were they to understand that the Imperial Government agreed to bear one 1312 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 fourth of that extravagance? He believed not. With regard to the leading features of the Bill they did not commend themselves to his judgment. People were not prepared for, and did not want so cumbrous and intricate a system of Government, and it was absurd to impose it upon them. A cheap, simple and direct system of Government such as that provided for in the Bill of last Session would answer every purpose, and would meet the almost universal approval of the people. He objected to the system of two Chambers, and was astonished to find the system proposed for Red River in view of its expense in Quebec and the success of the one chamber system in Ontario. He hoped the Government would consent to change in this respect. In looking over the map of the new Province laid on the table, he noticed that an important Canadian settlement containing some four or five hundred families, namely: Portage la Prairie, had been left beyond the limits of the Provinces, though the boundary line diverged 15 minutes to take in a small "Roman Catholic Mission." It was just as well there should be a little plain speaking on this point at an early day. It was known by the Government and the country that the rebellion in the North-West originated with the Roman Catholic priesthood ("no, no," from French members). That fact was substantiated by the Commissioners of the Government who had been sent to that country, The priesthood desired to secure certain advantages for themselves, their Church or their people. And they advised their people to take the course they did. These facts would be proved beyond doubt if the House would grant a Committee of enquiry. He believed the respectable, wealthy, intelligent portion of the Roman Catholic population were opposed to that course and loyal to this Government, and would willingly accept the Government that was provided for in the Bill of last session. He warned the Government that amendments would be proposed to this Bill. With regard to the claims of loyalists from the Territory, he understood the Minister of Militia to say that they must look to England.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier said he had not stated that. He had mentioned when the Minister of Justice was speaking that these claims might fall on us or perhaps on England. He did not say decidedly that they would have to be settled by England.
Hon. Mr. McDougall accepted the explanation, and went on to argue the justice of these claims, and the necessity of their being attended to by the Government. The Imperial Government were under no obligation to settle these claims. He concluded by denouncing the appointment of Captain Cameron to the head of the police for Red River as the most unfortunate selection that could be made.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said the hon. member for North Lanark seemed unable to comprehend the policy of the Government. With regard to the non-payment of the money, he would only ask the House to consider the position of the Government when the unfortunate interruption to the hon. gentleman's entrance into the territory took place. They should look at the season of the year and the surrounding circumstances. What would have been the consequences of the payment of the money on the lst December last? The inevitable consequences would have been the immediate transfer of the country to Canada. (Hear.) They had been told by the press that they should have sent up a military officer, who would have gone to the country by railroad, as did the hon. gentleman, and entered the country alone.
Hon. Mr. McDougall—An absurd suggestion.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said the Government at once saw that at that season of the year, in the first place, it was impossible that Canada should take the government of that country. It was essentially important, and every day had made them more convinced of the view they took, that without reference to the paltry question of expenses, that we should have the prestige of the Imperial Government in getting up and sending an expedition there, to establish the Queen's authority, instead of leaving Canada to commence the war with that people on its own account and on its own responsibility, thereby inviting filibusters and sympathizers from the neighbouring States to come in and join them, and thus involve the country in an expenditure of which no one could have any conception.
Hon. Sir George-É. Cartier—Hear, hear.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said, when the Government first heard of these circumstances, before the lamentable events which subsequently occurred had taken place, they at once took the very best means to allay the discontent which existed more particularly among a certain portion of the population. We were unsuccessful because—he was sorry to say it and regretted to have to go into that 1314 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 question—of the unfortunate mistake committed by the hon. gentleman.
Hon. Mr. McDougall—No, no.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks could readily understand, and feel that it was his bounden duty to stand up and defend himself. But if things had been allowed to remain until the Government of this country had been able to prescribe a policy which was desirable under the circumstances, if they had been allowed to employ the agencies which they at once took steps to employ, if Father Thibault had gone up, and the proclamation never been issued, and the force not been invited to go on, he was perfectly certain that in a very few days Father Thibault would have settled matters. (Hear.) If the hon. gentleman had remained quiet until he had known the views of the Government, there would have been no difficulty whatever. It was not a question of expediency. The time of paying the money was the question. They thought that the right time for paying the money was when the Queen's authority had been restored. Then it was quite right that quiet should be restored by a force acting under the Imperial officers, and having the prestige of our Sovereign, thus preventing the appearance of its being a war between one section of the Dominion and the people. It was a view taken by the Government, it was not a mere question of expenditure. If the territory, of course, had been transferred to Canada, they could not expect England to contribute any share of the expenses. We have got to maintain peace in our own territories, but under the peculiar circumstances of the case, it was important that the force should be essentially an Imperial force and not a Canadian force. (Hear.)
It being six o'clock the House rose for recess.
After recess,
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks resumed the debate. He said he was bound to place on record his opinion of the Act which had produced the most disastrous consequences in the Territory, that was the issue of the proclamation by the member for North Lanark, when sent as Governor of the Territory. The intentions of the Government were most liberal. The Legislature was only provisional in its nature and they had sent one who had been a warm advocate of the policy of acquiring that Territory to be settled in great part from the four older Provinces. The Government had given instructions which in his (Sir Francis') judgment, no exception could be taken. His object 1315 was to get there, to place himself in communication with all parties, to obtain all the information possible and inform the Government what kind of constitution was most suitable. Notwithstanding what he conceived to be the wise course taken by the Government, the strongest opposition was offered by the leading organ of the Opposition in Ontario. Every means was taken to excite distrust in the Canadian Government. It was said they intended to ill-treat the inhabitants of that country, that they had no intention to regard their wishes, and he believed that a great deal of the discontent was due to these efforts. He was disposed to make every allowance for errors of judgment in the performance of the duties imposed on the member for North Lanark. But when the Government as a Government expressed their disapproval of his course which they firmly believed led to the consequences which they had all seen, he could not but deplore the action which led to such a disastrous result. It was the duty of hon. members, and they could not but sympathize with those who were acting in that Territory in sympathy with the Canadian Government, but there could be no doubt they took a course which led to evil results. Honourable members talk of claims, but he could not see how the Government could deal with claims which had not been presented. No such claims had been made but even if they had that was a question entirely apart from that of the Bill brought in by the Minister of Justice. It had nothing to do with it, and it was unfortunate that the question should now be raised. He would deal with representations made by those persons peculiarly distinguished as Canadians, as opposed to what some honourable gentlemen were pleased to call the rebel party, but which he would distinguish as the mixed French and Indian race, chiefly Catholic in religion. Could it be made clear to him that those against whom the hon. gentleman protested had asked exclusive privileges he could understand it. But he had read a letter in one of the papers to-day, addressed to the Governor General, and signed James Lynch, a gentleman assuming, and no doubt correctly assuming to represent the wishes of a large portion of the population, and one for whom he had the highest respect. He had carefully read the letter, and had endeavoured to see if there was any real grievance against these persons, or if the Government had committed any error from the point of view of those whom Dr. Lynch represented. It had already come out in the course of the discussion, that in all questions coming before the Government, they had not considered the question whether the delegates were representatives of the majority or minority. Admit that they represented the minority; admit even 1316 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 that as alleged in the letter, they had been the appointed by that gentleman, Mr. Riel (cries of gentleman, and confusion). It was admitted that one delegate did not represent him. That was Judge Black who was brought to accept the mission with great reluctance, his name having been given as the letter states, as a sort of sop to those not under Mr. Riel's influence. Assume that all the statements made by Dr. Lynch were correct and he would as if the Bill was open to the objection of pressing on those whom Dr. Lynch represented. What were the points in contention? First, these delegates would have desired—as stated in the Bill of Rights—that they should have the whole lands of Manitoba into their possession, that is into the possession of the Local Government. What he wanted to establish was simply this: that all those identifying themselves with the Province of Manitoba were all equally interested in getting all they could out of Canada whether by way of subsidy or otherwise. He did not understand that any of them were afraid of elective institutions. On the contrary they were quite ready to assent to them. Put aside for the moment the second chamber, and elective institutions with an elective chamber as in other Provinces, he was satisfied they would not object to. His experience in the Dominion Government satisfied him that the Governments of all the Provinces and the people desired to get all they could out of the Dominion.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau—Except Quebec.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he excepted neither Quebec nor Ontario. On the other hand the Dominion Government were there to protect the Dominion Treasury. Well, as far as he was aware, all points had been fully discussed between the Dominion Government and the gentlemen who had been sent as delegates. He believed the Dominion Government could have made better terms with those representing Canadian interests, than with those representing the Convention. Whether they had been freely elected or elected under terror he would not discuss, and, so far as he could find, they did not come to ask any special legislation for any class, Canadians as well as others being equally protected.
Mr. Mackenzie—At whose instance was the English settlement excluded?
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks—He would come to that by-and-by, that was a small question. But 1317 on all points no particular party claimed any special interest; the best terms were to be obtained for all parties. The member for Lambton had argued that the Dominion Government had given too much. That was a fair subject for criticism, but not as between one section of the population there and another, for the arrangement was made for the good of all. It was perfectly clear that when the difficulties were settled and the Queen's authority established that a vast migration would be pouring into the country, from the Four Provinces but principally, there was no doubt, from Ontario, and the original inhabitants would thus be placed in a hopeless minority, and of this, they themselves had no doubt. If this were correct it was perfectly obvious that those who had been occupying the Territory all their lives would naturally take this view: that they were to be entirely swamped and their influence destroyed, that all their lands were to be taken, not as in the other Provinces, and that they would have to take simply a moderate portion of land for the settlers and their children, not for one class but for all. There was not one point he could discover in which the delegates—representing a minority if you will— took a sectional view. There had been a good deal of sneering at large institutions for a small number of people in the Territory. Although he could cite Constitutions granted by the Imperial Government to places with populations smaller, and without the least prospect of increasing, as there was likely to be an increase here with a representative chamber, yes, and with a second chamber. Yet he would readily admit the perfect absurdity (hear, hear), of the whole scheme if they were providing for the total of 15,000, instead of the population which would go there. Before the month they were now entering was well advanced, they would be flocking in, and in so short a time that he was afraid to say how short, an immense population would be enjoying the institutions of a free British people. His hon. friend, the Minister of Militia, had correctly pointed to the fact that in 1791 when Upper Canada was made a Province its population was less than the population in the North- West now. He had great faith in the future of that country. Unfortunately the gentleman to whom the Government looked to for responsible advice had from circumstances been unable to afford this, and the Government were compelled to deal with it on their own responsibility. Therefore, it was not dictated, nor had the result been brought about by any delegates, although they were consulting with them and were happy to believe they were prepared to acquiesce in the decision at which the Government were arrived.
1318 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870
Mr. Mackenzie—Then they saw the Bill before we did?
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks—They have not seen it yet.
Mr. Mackenzie—How could they acquiesce?
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks—They knew its general principles. Did he mean to say it was wrong to communicate with these persons?
Mr. Mackenzie—He did mean to say so. Drs. Schultz and Lynch and Mr. Fletcher were as much entitled to be consulted as the rebel delegates and they never had been so.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he must know that the whole object was to make such conditions as would be for the interests of the friends of Drs. Schultz, Lynch, and Mr. Fletcher. They were quite satisfied with the policy of the Government, and acquiesced in it for the Canadians.
Mr. Mackenzie said they were not satisfied.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said he held in his hands proof of it in the letter of Dr. Lynch, in which he said he had confidence that the Government would deal fairly with the people. They were not the dissatisfied party. Did the hon. gentleman mean that it would be a statesman-like policy to force the people into war? The Government policy was to get the country peacefully, and when it became thoroughly Canadian the people now there must necessarily be in the minority. But, not satisfied with getting the country, they must also have war.
Mr. Mackenzie—Who says that?
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said, it was not only the opinion of the Canadian Government that no policy could be more adverse than that to the interests of Canada, and, if they had adopted a policy against conciliation, they would not have had the confidence of the Imperial Government. They had taken the course, from first to last, which was wise and prudent, and in consonance with a majority of this House. The Imperial Government had, at first, found fault with the Government for not paying over the money, but when they saw the reasons that were given, that they were wise and statesman-like, they approved of them, and were now acting in close co-operation.
Mr. Mackenzie said they had never said so.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks said they had acted in a manner to show that they were satisfied. It would have been an act of madness if they had paid over the money in December, in the depth of winter, when the country would have been left on the hands of Canada, who would be compelled to enter on the war in the spring, and exposed to meet all kind of filibustering, and an expensive and disastrous war. He was not going to enter into any details of the Bill. That would be better done on the second reading, but he had called attention to the remarks on the unsound policy of the Government to show that it had been a sound policy throughout.
Mr. Ferguson asked how 190 families had been left out at Portage la Prairie, as laid down in the map.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the object of the residents had been to obtain possession of the whole country. They wished Rupert's Land made into one Province and to have all the land within the boundary as in other Provinces. The Government thought, as he believed did the majority of Parliament, that that great country should be divided into Provinces with as restricted a boundary as possible, and the only reason that led to the exclusion was the belief that the settlement would form the nucleus of the new Province altogether British, ("hear hear" and "oh"). It was pointed out that it was impossible to hand over the country, to be legislated for by the present inhabitants. He pointed out that the Territory had been purchased for a large sum from the H.B. Co., that settlement had to be made with the Indians, the guardianship of whom was involved, that the land could not be handed over to them, as it was of the greatest importance to the Dominion to have possession of it, for the Pacific Railway must be built by means of the land through which it had to pass. He could assure them that in discussing with the delegates from the Convention they did not suggest this division. They wanted the whole country, but they insisted at last on so arranging that they should touch and obtain access to Manitoba Lake on the one side and Lake Winnipeg on the other.
Mr. Mackenzie—And exclude the English.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said if they were excluded from the Province they still belonged to the Dominion, and if asked man by man they would prefer Government by the Dominion than to be governed from Fort Garry. But the Bill provided that the Province should be extended if Parliament should insist on a different policy and instead of a series of 1320 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 Provinces extend the boundaries. There were other settlements in the Province not included.
Mr. Mackenzie—No.
Several Members— Name them.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the posts of the H.B.C. were settlements.
Mr. Ferguson was exceedingly sorry to have given the hon. and gallant knight, the Minister of Justice, the trouble of making so long an explanation, which was, nevertheless, he regretted to say, not quite satisfactory to him. He should have desired that the whole people of the North-West should have been included in the new province. This, he perceived, was not the intention of the Government. He, however, could not help believing that the three thousand English-speaking settlers at Portage la Prairie should have formed part of the Province of Manitoba, coming thereby within the new Government and taking a share in it. Nay, he would go further, and say that he had hoped that even those posts of the Hudson's Bay Company, within reasonable bounds, where there were two hundred settlers, should not have been left out of the pale of the proposed Government and Legislature of Manitoba. The determination at which the Government apparently had arrived of leaving out the settlement of the Portage la Prairie, and the settlers at the posts, had no doubt been come to after mature consideration, and was the result of the best information which they had obtained. That information, nevertheless, may have been, to some slight extent, one-sided, and he might be excused for entertaining the idea that on this point the opinions of gentlemen representing the loyal people of the country were entitled to as much weight as were those of the men whom Riel had delegated to express his views and wishes. With some of those loyal gentlemen he had come in contact and he could not refrain from stating that he had never heard them express any wish to the effect that the people of la Prairie, or any other of the English settlers in the North-West, should be left out of the proposed Government. He, indeed, thought that they could not do otherwise than desire to be included in it. Fort Garry, which was the capital, the chief, and he might say the only city in the proposed Province of Manitoba, was not more than sixty miles distant from la Prairie. There was every reason why they should form a part of the new Province, and no good reason, whatever, that they should be excluded. The idea of excluding them was preposterous. The exclusion of an English speaking settlement so near the chief city—the capital, in fact, of the new Govern 1321 ment—could not be carried into effect without causing remark and suggesting the inference that there were other reasons besides those alleged for so short-sighted a proceeding. The cutting off of these people was not a mere temporary expedient, but an arrangement which might last for years. In his opinion, all the settlements should be included in the new Province. At Portage la Prairie there were 3,000 settlers, and at the posts there were 200 settlers at the lowest computation. These should all come within, and be included in the Province of Manitoba. Setting that matter aside for the moment, he might further be permitted to remark that there seemed to him to be no necessity for a Legislature with two Chambers—an Upper and a Lower House—for 11,000 people—the balance of the whole population of 15,000, when la Prairie and the posts were left out of the question. Indeed, he very much doubted whether this House had authority under the Act of Confederation, to constitute an Upper Chamber. There did not seem to him to be the slightest necessity for two Houses, and he could not conceive it to be possible that two Senators should be permitted to so very few people as their representatives in the Upper House of the Dominion Parliament. The new Province, in his opinion, ought to embrace far wider limits than was intended, and, without the power of attaining his wishes in this respect, he could not resist the temptation of giving expression to his views upon what seemed to him to be a very important matter. There was one other matter to which he would allude before sitting down. Heretofore, in all his transactions, he had always found the hon. Minister of Militia liberal towards the whole English speaking race, and he (Mr. Ferguson) had never failed to defend him—and that too, at a time when his name did not stand so high in Ontario as it now does, when he was attacked. He admired the honourable gentleman for his undoubted pluck, public spirit and liberality, and only regretted that he could not now go so fully along with him in this measure as he could have desired. He had no hesitation in remarking further that he had, on excellent authority, ascertained that the origin of the outbreak was not attributable, as had been alleged, altogether to priestly influence. There were possibly some priests, who had from mistaken motives, taken part in the resistance to Canadian authority, but there were other parties besides Roman Catholic priests, who had no mean share in instigating the outbreak. He certainly trusted that the Bill was open to amendment, as unless it were so open, he could not afford to give it his support.
1322 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the Bill, of course, was open to amendment.
Mr. Ferguson hoped that it might be so amended as to include the Portage la Prairie in the new Province.
Mr. Masson (Terrebonne) had found it impossible to agree up to the present moment, with the Government on the North-West imbroglio. He had always thought that the Government had made a great mistake in not consulting the inhabitants of the Territories; in not taking the advice of persons of standing, who would have been most happy to tender advice if required. He had not one word to disavow in all he said on this question, and had remarked with pleasure some time ago, that the hon. Minister of Militia had manfully admitted himself, that the Government had been mistaken as to the nature of the Government existing in the Red River settlements, or the sentiments of its inhabitants, thereby admitting what he (Mr. Masson) had contended for, that the rules of common prudence had been disregarded. He had always thought one of the greatest faults of the Government had been the nomination of the Hon. Mr. McDougall as Lieutenant Governor. He was sure that there was many an Englishman, both in the House, and in the country, who by their liberal turn of mind, would have been most acceptable to the population. The hon. member for North Lanark had this evening by his attack on the Catholic clergy fully justified the opinion that no worse nomination could be made to govern a people composed of men of different religion and races. He (the member for North Lanark) had found fault with the Government for having granted a liberal representative Government to the new Province. The accusation came most singularly from a member of the great Liberal party of Ontario and would be resented by all men in the country, who believed in liberal institutions. The accusation came badly from a gentleman belonging to the then small Province of Upper Canada, which had obtained representative institutions when only inhabited by a few thousand people. He (Mr. Masson) was grieved to hear the member from North Lanark attacking the Roman Catholic clergy at this very moment, when it is perfectly well known that the pacification of the Red River was due to the untiring efforts of the Right Rev. Bishop Taché, a most patriotic, able and liberal gentleman, who had, by his loyal influence, induced Riel and his followers to hoist the English flag on the bastion of Fort Garry, and had it saluted by the guns of the Fort. It would be seen in the Globe newspaper that Bishop Taché had succeeded in pacifying 1323 men who had always thought that their political rights had been wilfully disregarded and had quieted and brought to submission men who had taken from their fathers those principles of liberty, of which the two great races inhabiting this country are so proud, and the instincts of freedom of the wild men of the desert. The member for North Lanark had charged the Government with being the cause of the disasters which occurred in the North- West, and responsible for all damages done. He (Mr. Masson) was of opinion that the Government were not blameless in this matter; he held them responsible for a great part of the mischief done, but it did not come well from the member to charge them with it, when it was known that his unfortunate and unauthorized proclamation had more to do with the continuance of the disturbance, than the mistakes of the Government. Had his proclamation been acted upon, he would have been responsible for the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects, and the weight of damages done would have been still greater and told more heavily on those, and whoever they may be, who will be obliged to pay the indemnity. As to the measure, he (Mr. Masson) thought it was a liberal-minded measure so far, and would be considered by the people of Red River as an atonement for their disregarded rights. He would not now examine the question of the expedition further than to state that he thought every member of the House felt that the Imperial Government had not dealt with us, and our Government in the proportion they assumed of the expenditure required for that expedition, when it was considered that the country had never been ours. He would support the Bill as a whole with all reserves as to the expediency of the expedition, and our share of the contribution.
Hon. Mr. Howe said the discussion might be carried out on some of the questions that had arisen during the debate. He could not expect to be entirely silent on the subject of the North-West, and strange criticisms and remarks had been passed on him. With regard to the charge made against the Government that they acted dishonourably in not paying the ÂŁ300,000 for the possession of the country: if they had paid that money, under the circumstances, was it likely that they should have got possession of the Territory? He wondered what would have been said if the money had been paid and they had lost the Territory too. He would have liked to hear the member for Lambton speak on that if it had occurred, at the following Session. They had some reason to apprehend that not being well satisfied with the transfer of the Territory there was some uneasiness among the employees of the Hud 1324 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 son's Bay Company. Would they have to pay over that money to strengthen the hands of those men? No, they paused in their action. They raised the money, put it in deposit, and in a few days they had a strong confirmation of the wisdom of their proceedings in the telegrams from Mr. McDougall relating that disturbances had taken place and showing the want of action of the Hudson's Bay Company, ascribing it to the weakness and imbecility of the Governor. There was evidence of the weakness of the Company furnished to them on the 13th of November, and he put it to the hon. gentleman, that matter not being cleared up during the whole winter, whether they would not have incurred grave responsibility? (Hear, hear.) The Company would have said we have got the money and there is nothing for us to do in the matter of preserving peace, let us leave it entirely to the Government of Canada. They, therefore, did not pay and were there to answer for it. The position if they had paid the money would have resulted in circumstances which would have merited the application, to them, of being worse than absurd. They would have been in a position of having nominal authority and possession of a country for the whole winter, in which they could not place their foot. They threw the responsibility on the Hudson's Bay Company and the Imperial Government. They wisely held on to the money, that was the first point, (laughter). He did not think that the honour of the country had been tarnished by that action. If the British Government did not come to maintain their power in this territory it was a very different course to that which he had always associated with the name of Great Britain. If that ancient empire was to be held together, if the loyalty of the country's inhabitants was to be maintained, this was not the course to be adopted. The spirit with which the British people met the Assiniboian outlay gave strength and prestige to the present expedition. It was something to have the Queen's authority for passing out of our own limits to that country where we expect to have our power maintained and enforced in the future. If from any cause the Queen's Government were to refuse to participate in this expedition of peace, he would not like to advise the people of Canada to embark in it. The Hon. Mr. McDougall seemed to throw on the Government the whole blame. He (Hon. Mr. Howe) had been in the Territory for several days without knowing that there was a danger of insurrection; but the blame rested on the Hon. Mr. McDougall as Minister of Public Works, who had constant communication with his employees in that country, and yet did not inform him (Hon. Mr. Howe) in the fall that there was a danger of insurrection in the Province. Mr. Snow was there fifteen months, but 1325 did not say anything about it, and Colonel Dennis, who started in August, and was selected by Hon. Mr. McDougall, and was responsible to Mr. McDougall but neither of them had given the slightest intimation that there was to be any conflict or any serious interruption to the progress of the Canadian Government. And yet he was expected to find it out in a single day. The inhabitants were not savages.
Hon. Mr. McDougall—Hear, hear.
Hon. Mr. Howe said the intelligence of the people was remarkable. The Bishop of Rupert's Land invited him to come to his house, and he found him a prelate of the highest character and intelligence, and his second man a hardheaded Scotchman, (laughter). They had Sabbath and day schools. He crossed the river and found in the Catholic diocese of St. Boniface the same intelligence and beautiful structures. He did not like the term half-breed, but they were told that because of that they were to be crushed down.
Hon. Mr. McDougall—Who said that?
Hon. Mr. Howe—I don't know, but we will assume that the idea is in some one's head, and is deserving of being crushed out. He thought at the time of the Norman Conquest that the English were half-breeds, but out of these mixtures came the noblest breeds. With regard to the system of two Chambers, as an individual member of the Government he would prefer a single Chamber if the people desired it; but in giving them two Chambers they were only giving them what was given to every British Colony, and would give the people of Manitoba no cause of complaint. Of course the Local Legislature would have power to do away with one Chamber if they did not want it. He would not undertake to say that perhaps two or three priests had not aided in the insurrection; but supposing that was so, the plain duty of the Government was to do what was right irrespective of the conduct of two or three priests. Let us not mar the glorious work of founding a Province, which would one day be an honour to the Empire, by any reference to each other's religion, (hear, hear). The hon. gentleman went on to defend the appointment of Captain Cameron, and intimated that had he owned or controlled a newspaper his conduct would have been regarded in a different light. With regard to the claims of the loyalists, he would state that this Government and Parliament might be trusted to do justice in a matter of this kind. All claims would have to be investigated before they were considered.
1326 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870
Hon. Mr. McDougall said the hon. Secretary of State endeavoured to shield himself from the just indignation of the country, by throwing the blame upon Col. Dennis and himself. He would admit that the Government had no information, when he was appointed, of a threatened uprising against the authority of the Canadian Government. On the contrary the Government had an interview with Governor McTavish not long before his appointment, and he gave no hint of any prospect of trouble. But when the Secretary of State went to Red River there was trouble exhibited, but yet he did nothing to allay it, but on the contrary had told them that they were right in resisting entrance to the coming Government, and he charged that hon. gentleman with being the chief instrument in the whole matter resulting so seriously. He had informed the people, in effect, that they had only to do as Nova Scotia did and they would succeed. The rebellion would have been a mere trifling affair had it not been sustained by the advice and recommendation of the Secretary of State. These facts he could prove before a Committee of the House, if one were appointed. With regard to his own conduct, he held that he was justified in assuming that the day agreed upon for the transfer, the transfer would take place, and that his commission would come into effect. But he discovered, a few days after the first of December, from a paragraph in a newspaper, which was the first intimation he had that the Government had failed to keep their promise, and that the money would not be paid over. Why was not a messenger sent to him to inform him of the intention of the Government to break up the arrangement with the Imperial Government? With regard to the despatch of the Secretary of State to him, about which so much had been said, he would take this opportunity of replying as he had never done, it being understood that it would not be laid on the table along with the other papers. He explained that at the time the proclamation was to be issued, the loyal people were ready to admit him, were anxious in fact for him to come, and under the circumstances he felt he had a right to assume that the royal proclamation had been issued. Acting on that assumption he sent Col. Dennis ahead, but as Riel had promised that he only wanted the rights of the people, Col. Dennis, acting on the advice of leading men, had decided not to keep the people in arms. He (Mr. McDougall) admitted he had no authority to act, but how was he to know? It was absurd to say that the Hudson's Bay Company should have maintained order as they were in a moribund state of existence. With regard to the remarks of the Minister of Finance, he contended that the action of Col. Dennis had not the effect of prolonging the 1327 rebellion. The insurgents had their plans all laid, and were determined to carry them under all circumstances. He was not disposed to accept any more than his share of blame in the matter. He acted faithfully with the Government, and he never for a moment dreamed that they would go back from the agreement they had entered into. He believed that if Bishop Taché, when he returned, had exerted his full authority to induce the followers of Riel to return to their homes, Riel would not have a Corporal's guard left to sustain him. He referred to the recommendations of Mr. D. Smith that a force should be sent to keep the Indians quiet, and characterized it as a libel on the Indians, who were thoroughly loyal to the British Crown. Referring to the Bill, he hoped the boundaries would be changed so as to include the country lying between the Red River and Lake Superior, and also the English settlement of Portage la Prairie.
Hon. Mr. Chauveau replied to the remarks of the member for North Lanark, that Quebec was on the verge of bankruptcy owing to the burden of the two Chambers. He asserted that Quebec had a balance on hand of $500,000, and explained the different position Quebec occupied to that of Ontario. He went on to argue that half-breeds were not an inferior race, and contended that no proof had been produced of the charges against the Roman Catholic priesthood that they had fomented the insurrection. He proceeded to criticize at length the action of the member for North Lanark in the North-West, and the despatches and subsequent conduct of that hon. gentleman.
Mr. Mills asked if the Dominion Government would retain the right to appoint Senators from Red River, or would that right be left to the Local Government.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said it was impossible at the time the address was passed for the admission of Rupert's Land, to know what representation should be given in the Dominion Parliament, and, therefore, he had put it in the original Constitution—so representation was provided for in the present Bill. It would be hopeless to expect that freemen would consent to be united to Canada without a representation in the Canadian Parliament being provided for. Hence the necessity for such a provision in that Bill. He regretted the nature of the discussion that had taken place with regard to the principles and details of the Bill. Government would be glad to have full and free discussion. He hoped that the hon. gentlemen in ventilating their private grievances would take care not to use any expression that would throw any obstruction in their 1328 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 way, expressions which would be reported in the North-West; that they would take care that by throwing words across the floor of the House they did not wound the sensibilities of a high-minded and jealous people. With regard to the question of boundary and the size of the new Province, the Government would fully consider it, but he considered it would be injudicious to have a large province which would have control over lands, and might interfere with the general policy of the Government in opening up communication to the Pacific, besides the land legislation of the Province might be obstructive to immigration. All that vast Territory should be for purposes of settlement under one control, and that the Dominion Legislature. Another consideration was that by obtaining the control of these lands they would be able to obtain means by which they would be in a position to obtain repayment of the disbursement of the £300,000 for the purchase and of the expenditure which they might be hereafter put to. The expense would be defrayed by that means instead of being charged against the people of the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, (hear). That could be done, however, only by carrying out that policy of keeping the control of the lands of the country, and that they had determined to do. The Government thought it was a wise policy that the limits of the Province should not be too large. These considerations, however, they would place more strongly on the judgment and discretion of the House on the second reading.
Mr. Stirton asked if the Minister of Justice had any authority for the statement that the people of Portage la Prairie desired to be left out of the new Province?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said he had, and would give it tomorrow if he obtained permission.
Mr. Stirton said some of the people settled there had gone from his neighbourhood, and he happened to know that their sentiments did not bear out the assertion of the hon. gentleman. He (Mr. Stirton) thought one objection to the creation of small Provinces was that it involved farther increase in the number of Cabinet Ministers, so as to give them all representation in the Privy Council. He also objected to leaving a large area of Territory between Lake Superior and Red River without any organization. It would be a sort of no man's land, belonging neither to the Province of Ontario nor Manitoba, and would probably 1329 become the refuge of every outlaw in both Provinces, and a source of constant trouble and difficulty.
Mr. Mackenzie said he was not inclined to submit to the exclusion of the Portage la Prairie country from the new Province; and unless the Government yielded upon that point, he would offer an amendment on the second reading. He also objected to the smallness of the Province, and said, if the whole of the fertile belt were to be cut up in that way, it would make some twenty or thirty Provinces. He demanded that the Government should bring down further information upon the subject, so that the House might be able to discuss it intelligently, with the aid of all the facts which have enabled the Government to form the conclusions it had reached.
Dr. Grant said it would wound the sensibilities of the people at Portage la Prairie if they were excluded, and he urged the Government to reconsider its conclusion on that point.
Hon. Mr. Wood said the general features of the measure met his approval; but there was one point to which the attention of the Government, it seemed to him, had not been sufficiently directed, and that was the care and guardianship of the Indian tribes. He referred to the laws which had been passed in Canada with regard to Indian annuities, which were now placed upon the civil lists in obedience to the requirements of the Imperial Government, and asked if the Minister of Justice had stated that 1,200,000 acres of land were to be reserved and placed at the disposal of the Local Government of the Province for the extinction of the Indian titles. Now he (Hon. Mr. Wood) wanted to know if the Government proposed to entrust to this new Province, unaccustomed to the exercise of the functions of a Government, the payment of the Indian annuities, which would have to be made for the purpose of extinguishing those Indian titles, or did the Dominion Government intend to retain in its own hands the power of dealing with those Indians and seeking whether contracts or undertakings, made with them should be faithfully carried out. There was an apprehension that under the pretence of confirming grants made by the Hudson's Bay Company, large blocks of land might find their way into the hands of certain corporations and thus be locked up and withheld from settlement. He confessed the explanations of the Minister of Justice had not satisfied him on this point.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the reservation of 1,200,000 acres which it was proposed 1330 COMMONS DEBATES May 2, 1870 to place under the control of the Province, was not for the purpose of buying out the full blooded Indians and extinguishing their titles. There were very few such Indians remaining in the Province, but such as there were they would be distinctly under the guardianship of the Dominion Government. The main representatives of the original tribes were their descendants, the half-breeds, and the best way of dealing with them was the same as United Empire loyalists had been dealt with, namely giving small grants of land for them and their children. That was the answer he had to give to his hon. friend.
In reply to Mr. Rymal,
Hon. Mr. Howe said that the Government only knew that the prisoners were all released, the mails were free, the country was open, and the Hudson's Bay Company had commenced to sell their goods again.
In further reply to Mr. Rymal,
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said no writ had been issued against Riel; the proper power to arrest Riel was the Imperial Power. It was with her and her only that steps could be taken. If any offenders are brought within the bounds of Canada, they had to be tried. They could not have any ex post facto jurisdiction.
Mr. Mills asked if the prisoners were in confinement, would they be set free therefore on the transfer to this Government, and whether crimes committed anterior to the transfer would not be subject to punishment according to law.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said if there was a prisoner in Newfoundland at Confederation he would be tried under the same laws as he was taken into custody under.
Hon. Mr. Holton asked if the Bill was complete, or whether it would be recast after the discussion that night?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the Bill was drafted and complete.
The Bill was read a first time. Second time to-morrow.
Hon. Mr. Howe then laid on the table the report of Father Thibault's mission.


Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald laid on the table the report of the Postmaster General for 1869. (Hear.)


Mr. Mills asked if any application had been made to the Government on behalf of any person or persons on account of losses sustained by him or them from the destruction of property by the insurgents in the North-West.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said there had been no formal applications, but they had heard statements made of such losses.
Mr. Mills asked if the Hudson's Bay Company had made any such claim?
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—No.


Mr. Bowman asked why postage rates on papers to Germany had been raised from 6c to 9c, while postage on letters had been reduced, and whether it was the intention of the Government to correct this anomaly?
Hon. Mr. Langevin said the arrangement rested with the Imperial Government. The matter, however, was still in abeyance.
Hon. Sir Francis Hincks gave notice of a resolution relating to superannuation.
The House then adjourned at 11 :55 p.m.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1870. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1979. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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