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Banner: First Among EqualsSir John Alexander MacDonald Banner

Speech before the House of Commons, July 6, 1885


COMMONS DEBATES.


[page] 3110

. . .

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: Whether, in the long and elaborate speech of the hon. gentleman, he has established a rightful censure upon the Government, whether he has shown that we have been guilty of negligence, of oppression, of maladministration, I leave to the judgment of the House and the country. But there is one thing I think there can be no doubt about on either side, and that is that the hon. gentleman, in his speech, has furnished gratuitously a most able brief for the counsel of Louis Riel. I venture to say that not one of the counsel for that unfortunate man will be able to advance or will be able to adduce such arguments as the hon. gentleman has done this day, irrespective of the consequences which he should have known would have flown from his language.

Mr. LISTER: Who caused it?

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: You may sneer but you will find, this House will find, that in the speeches of the counsel for Riel, when the trial takes place, as it will,within a few days, the substance, the basis, the apex and the bottom of that defence will be the speech of the hon. gentleman. And it was so from the beginning. From the beginning of this Session, every motion the hon. gentleman made, every question he asked, every return he called for--it was all done with the one object, the miserable, the wretched object of trying to get a case against the Government rather than get justice for the people of the North-West. I would ask

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any hon. member in this House if the whole speech of the hon. gentleman is not a justification, an apology, an excuse for the riding in the North-West; a justification, an apology, an excuse for murder.

Some hon. MEMBERS: No, no.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: a justification, an excuse for anarchy.

Mr. CAMERON (Huron): You are the criminals.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: I say that the whole course of the Opposition in this House, the whole course of the Opposition out of this House, every effort made by them, every statement made by them in the House and the press, has been with the object of injuring the Government, irrespective of the country, whatever hon. gentlemen opposite may say. What care they whether the future prospects of the North-West be prejudiced or affected? If they can get up a cry or a means of attack on the Government, they do not care. They would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. There are two things that will rise in the minds of the auditors of the hon. gentleman's speech, and those are, that he never alluded, except very cursorilly [sic], to the course of events before 1878-79. How reticent he was about the policy of the Government of which he was a member sometimes, and sometimes not. In the next place, he has not ventured, in the whole of his seven hours� speech, to say that the alleged grievances of the half-breeds were just.

Mr. BLAKE: Hear, hear.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: It is true he has quoted their grievances; it is true he has gone down to the cellars of the reading room and raked up every newspaper coming from the North-West, to read little paragraphs written by country editors for the special benefit of their special locality. He has read them as evidence of writings with-held by the Government. Whenever he has read a paper he has said: There is no answer to this; and he supposes there must have been an answer, and that answer must have been suppressed.

Mr. CAMERON (Huron): So they were.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: The hon. member for South Huron  --  no, he does not say that; he is a gentleman, though a mistaken gentleman. It is the hon. gentleman behind him who has said it. I say, in the first place, the hon. gentleman has never, in the whole course of his long speech, said that the claims of the half-breeds to be put on the same footing with the half-breeds of Manitoba were just and legal. He has not dropped a single word to that effect. Why? Because the Government of which he was a member decided solemnly they had no such claim; that they had no claims at all, no more than the white settler who went in. The hon. gentleman, sometimes in the Government and sometimes not there  --  I cannot tell whether he was in at the very hour when the policy of the Mackenzie Government was declared in a solemn despatch  --  but he had it; he has had it in his hands; he has read a portion of it to-night; he has not quoted the whole of that despatch  --  that despatch in which the hon. member for Bothwell declared that the half-breeds had no rights. Does the hon. gentleman (Mr. Mills) deny that there is such a despatch? Does the hon. gentleman deny that he does not know it, that he has not read it, that he has not read a portion of it? Then I shall read it. Thus runs the solemn despatch of the 13th February, 1878, written by the then Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Laird. I shall read the whole of the despatch. It is addressed to the hon. member for Bothwell, Minister of the Interior:

I have the honor to transmit herewith a petition of certain half-breeds of St. Laurent, relating to several matters affecting their interests in this country. Though the petition is addressed to the Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territory, yet, as it refers to questions for the most part wholly under the control of the Dominion Parliament and Government, I am requested to forward it to His Excellency the Governor in Council. I hope you will have the goodness at an early day to lay it before His Excellency in Council.

At an early day  --  the hon. gentleman is very anxious about an early day:

Should it be the intention of the Government to appoint any additional members to the Council of the North-West Territories, the prayer of the petitioners, that such should be selected from the old residents of the country, as well worthy of consideration. It is important that the land policy of the Government towards old settlers end others living for many years in the territory should be declared. It appears to me that they have a claim to some more speedy means  -- 

Speedy!

speedy means for acquiring a title for settlement purposes than the homestead provisions of the Dominion Lands Act. To prevent disputes between neighbors, it is highly desirable that the survey of lands settled upon along the principal rivers should be prosecuted with all convenient speed.

Just put that map on the Table, please, and see what speed has been made with the survey.

With respect to the prayer for assistance in procuring seeds and implements to commence farming operations, it is similar to the request made to me by the half-breeds of Bow River during the Blackfeet treaty negotiations, and which I forwarded to you and commended to the favorable consideration of the Government.

That is signed by Mr. Laird. This is the answer of the Government, a portion of which the hon. gentleman alluded to, but he did not read the whole:

�Department of the Interior, Ottawa, 18th March, 1878.

The Government went out, I think, in October, 1878.

An hon. MEMBER: September.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: No, October. They ought to have gone out in September, but they did not.

Sir  --  I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch (No. 47) of the 13th ultimo, covering a petition addressed to you by certain half-breeds of the parish of St. Laurent, relating to several matters affecting the interest of the half-breeds in the North-West. You are requested to inform the petitioners that I shall have much pleasure  -- 

Mr. Mills will have much pleasure; I beg his pardon, the Minister of the Interior of that day, will have much pleasure  -- 

in submitting their petition for the consideration of His Excellency the Governor General in Council. In the meantime, you may intimate to the petitioners that should it be thought desirable to appoint additional members to the Council of the North-West, I shall be prepared to recommend for His Excellency's consideration their application that such members should be selected from the old residents in the Territories  -- 

Not elected  -- 

and that if possible one of them should be of French Canadian origin. The propriety of passing an Act to secure for the half-breeds some more speedy means of acquiring a title for settlement purposes than under the provisions of the present homestead and Dominion Lands Act has for some time past, engaged my attention.

Well, he took office in 1873.

Mr. MILLS: No.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: Well, the Government got in in 1873, and I suppose his predecessor was not a dummy; his predecessor was as able as the hon. gentleman himself, his predecessor had the same responsibility as himself, and the hon. gentleman, being his successor in the same Administration, took upon himself all the responsibility of what his predecessor did or did not do.

As regards the application of the petitioners for an early survey of the settled lands along the principal rivers, I have to request you to inform the petitioners that the survey of such lands has already been carried out, to some extent, and will be prosecuted as rapidly as the funds at the disposal of the Department will permit.

Some hon. MEMBERS: Hear, hear,

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Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: Exactly; but that Government did not choose to apply for the funds; and, if they had applied for the funds, they would have got them. They left the thing alone.

The application of the petitioners to be aided by the Government with seeds and agricultural implements in their farming operations I confess I am not disposed to view favorably. I do not see upon what grounds the half-breeds can claim to be treated, in this particular, differently from the white settlers in the Territiories.

I agree with the remarks of the hon. gentleman.

The half-breeds who have, in some respects, the advantage over new settlers in the Territories, should be impressed with the necessity of settling down in fixed localities and directing their energies towards pastoral or agricultural pursuits, in which case lands would, no doubt, be assigned to them, in the same way as to white settlers. But beyond this, they must not look to the Government for any special assistance in their farming operations.

The petitioners are in error in supposing that the Government has given seeds or farming implements, to any other class of white settlers in the North-West.

Money has been advanced, in some cases, to certain settlers, on the distinct understanding that it would be repaid to the Government by the parties to whom it was advanced. I may add that the result of this experiment has not been such as to induce the Government to repeat it.

There is that despatch, in which the hon. the Minister of Interior, administering the affairs of the North-West, tells the half-breeds of the North-West that they have no greater claims than the white settlers at that period; and what were the claims of the white settlers at that period? They were simply this: that any man going there who was 18 years of age and upwards could settle down on 160 acres of land, and, if he cultivated for three years, he could get his patent for that land. These were the claims and the only claims that the white man going from Ontario or Quebec, or any of the Provinces of Canada, had; he could have 160 acres free, and, if he chose to buy, he could have 160 acres more by preemption; and the hon. gentleman declared that the half-breeds in the North-West should have no other and no greater claims than the white men. Now the hon. gentleman very properly argues that the half-breeds have, in some respects, great advantages over the new settlers going into that country. He says that these half-breeds should be impressed with the necessity of settling down in fixed localities. They know the country; they were born in the country; they were trained in the country. They knew what the conditions of the country were, what the climatic conditions were; they knew what to expect. They knew that if they do not choose to cultivate the land, they must look elsewhere for means of subsistence. Now, Mr. Speaker, the truth is, that the dissatisfaction which has arisen in the North-West has deeper roots than more discontent by the half-breeds and others who are not getting their patents or getting their claims asserted. From the very inception of the acquisition of this country by Canada from the Hudson Bay Company there was discontent. In the first place, the Hudson Bay subordinates living in the country were very much dissatisfied that the company should be pushed off their throne. They governed that country; they were the sovereigns of that country, and everything that they could do secretly was done for the purpose of preventing the Government getting possession of that country. That discontent was sedulously spread among the whites, and among the half-breeds, and, perhaps, in some degree, among the Indians. That discontent continued, aye, and continues yet. The half-breeds never have been satisfied with the transfer of the country to Canada. They were willing to remain in their semi-free condition under the Hudson Bay Company, but they were not satisfied to come under the Government of the Dominion; and in 1870 this dissatisfaction culminated in an outbreak. That was subdued, but the feeling still lingered. In 1874 Mr. Gabriel Dumont was still a rebel  --  Mr. Gabriel Dumont  --  I speak of him with respect, because he was a brave man; although he was a rebel, although he has committed crimes, for which, if proved guilty, he would forfeit his life, still everyone must have respect for him, that certainly they have not for Louis Riel. But in 1874 Gabriel Dumont was forming a Provincial Government. He never was satisfied under the Crown of Great Britain. And there is a letter from Governor Morris, of the 22nd of June, 1874, inclusive of a statement of John McKay, relating to the conduct Gabriel Dumont. Now, the hon. gentleman has spoken of John McKay as a respectable man. I believe he is a respectable man, and Mr. McKay, at that time, reported that Gabriel Dumont was trying to form a Provincial Government, of which he was to be president. Now, Sir, from that time until now that feeling has been soothing. It is there. The claims of the half-breeds are a mere pretext, and the real desire is that that country should sever its connection with the Dominion of Canada, should become independent in some way. All the grievances that have been alleged are merely a pretext to cover that fixed principle that existed in the minds of the people there, or of some of them, that there should be an independent Government established in the North-West. Now, I have spoken about the action taken by the Government of the hon. member for East York (Mr. Mackenzie). I have read a despatch of the hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills), when Minister of the Interior, showing that the half-breeds, as half-breeds, had no other claim and had no greater claim than the whites. But, Sir, it has been alleged that the Government had neglected the claims of the half-breeds; it has been alleged that my hon. friend the Secretary of State made an inaccurate statement when he said that the half-breeds had not exercised their right to petition. The hon. gentleman quoted several despatches, several communications from the North-West to the Government here, in 1878, and before that year, and before the late Government went out; and he asked, how could we be so blind as to not know that such things existed Why, Sir, that was ancient history, as the hon. gentleman said. Those complaints were made before 1878, and the answer was given in the hon. gentleman's statement, that they had no claims whatever, any more than the whites who went in there. The hon. gentleman has read and quoted as if it were a paper condemning the Government, a letter signed by Mr. Matthew Ryan, formerly stipendiary magistrate in the North-West, but who has ceased to be such. He speaks of the rights of the half-breeds in the North-West, and this is what he says:

Having been appointed, on the 1st of January, 1876, stipendiary magistrate for the North-West Territories, I was also informed by the Minister of Justice that my commission to investigate the land claims was to be considered in effect for another year, in order to allow of the half-breeds in the North-West, who were unable to attend the sittings of the commissioners in Manitoba, to establish their claims before me. In the discharge of this duty, I found that a large number of half-breeds had no claim under the Act, not having been residents of Manitoba on the date of transfer, the 15th July, 1879. I could also see that this exclusion caused much discontent, and I did not fail to urge, from time to time, that the proper remedy should be applied.

To whom did they appeal? To hon. gentlemen opposite. Through 1876-77-78 they appealed to the Government composed of hon. gentlemen opposite; and he says they appealed again and again. He made repeated applications on behalf of those poor people; but not one stop was taken by hon. gentlemen opposite to remedy those grievances. How could the hon. gentleman do it? He declared they had no right and no claim, and therefore he could not, of course, take any step. From 1873-74 to 1878 not one single step was taken by hon. gentlemen opposite in order to relieve the discontent, if it existed, in order to allay grievances if they existed  --  not one single step was taken to relieve these poor people for whom the hon. member who has just addressed the House has expressed so much sympathy; they were left out in the cold; their claims were considered, their petitions were not answered. The hon.

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gentleman has read several documents, and he says that some of them were not answered, or that the answers do not appear among the papers. In January or February,1878, a petition asking redress was presented to the Government of that day, and until the time the Government went out of power not even an acknowledgment of the receipt of the petition was sent. What was the condition of affairs when we took office in 1878? We found that the preceding Government had taken no steps whatever; that they had not remedied the grievances ; that they had not even discussed them. In 1869 we obtained possession of the country; in 1870 Manitoba was established as a Province. It is within the recollection of several members of this House  --  at all events, it is in the history of the country  --  that in 1870, in order to secure peace and order  --  in fact, to obtain possession of the country  --  it was necessary to enter into an arrangement by which that Province might be acquired, that turbulent feelings might be put down and Canada might secure peace and quiet in that country. In order to accomplish that result the Government of the day entered into negotiations with certain delegates from the Province of Manitoba, which culminated in the Act of 1870, creating Manitoba a Province. In that Act it is provided that in order to secure the extinguishment of the Indian title 1,400,000 acres of land should be settled upon the families of the half-breeds living within the limits of the then Province. Whether they had any right to those lands or not was not so much the question as it was a question of policy to make an arrange- [sic] with the inhabitants of that Province, in order, in fact, to make a Province at all  --  in order to introduce law and order there, and assert the sovereignty of the Dominion. The Hudson Bay Company, the old proprietors of the country, had guaranteed certain rights to parties; they had acknowledged certain claims acquired in certain settlements, not only along the banks of Red River, but of the Assiniboia, and it was provided that, after a careful calculation, 1,400,000 acres would be quite sufficient for the purpose of compensating these men for what was called the extinguishment of the Indian title. That phrase was an incorrect one, because the half-breeds did not allow themselves to be Indians. If they are Indians, they go with the tribe; if they are half-breeds they are whites, and they stand in exactly the same relation to the Hudson Bay Company and Canada as if they were altogether white. That was the principle under which the arrangement was made and the Province of Manitoba was established. All white settlers who had not lost their land by lack of occupation or by silent acquiescence in the old Province of Assiniboia were allowed to keep their lands. So far as the half-breeds were concerned, 1,400,000 acres were set apart for the purpose of meeting their claims. There was a census taken, under Lieutenant Governor Archibald, the first Governor of that Province, and it was reported that there were about 10,000 half-breeds with their families that had a right to claim the land. If that census had been adhered to there would have been no difficulty. It was accurate, as accurate as a census can be taken in a new country without municipal institutions and means for enumerating the people one by one. But it was a correct census, and for it 1,400,000 acres had been assigned to meet the half-breed claims; and if that census had been adhered to, there never would have been any trouble. But the truth of the matter is, that the moment we went out of power it was necessary that everything we had done should be reversed, and the Government of the day chose to say that there were not 10,000 half-breeds in the Province of Manitoba, and they appointed Mr. Matthew Ryan and Mr. Machar, the latter a gentleman whom the hon. member for South Huron knows something about, for the purpose of undoing  --  I will not say of undoing, but of disregarding the census previously taken. That is the fact. If the census that had been taken and returned by Governor Archibald had been accepted there would have been land enough in the appropriation to have settled all trouble, as well for the half-breeds who were actually registered and got their lands as for the half-breeds who were actually registered and got their lands as for the half-breeds who happened to be away on the plains at the time the final adjudication was made. But it did not suit the Government of the day to accept that. Oh, no. The claims of the half-breeds in Manitoba were bought up by speculators. It was an unfortunate thing for those poor people; but it is true that this grant of scrip and land to those poor people was a curse not a blessing. The scrip was bought up; the lands were bought up by white speculators, and the consequences are apparent. I am told that even at this moment, in the vicinity of Winnipeg, instead of the surrounding country compromising smiling farms, settled with industrious people, the land is unsettled, in consequence of the scrip having been bought up for a song by speculators. In enacting the legislation necessary to the erection of the Province of Manitoba, in 1870, the Parliament of Canada provided that a tract of, 1,400,000 acres of land should be set apart, from which to make grants to the children of the half-breeds resident in the Province at the date of the transfer, which date, for the purposes of the Act, was fixed as the 15th day of July, 1870. An enumeration of those entitled to share in this allotment was obtained by a census, which Lieutenant Governor Archibald, in December, 1870, reported as having been carefully taken, and which showed that the number was then estimated not to exceed 10,000. It was then decided to grant to each of the half-breed inhabitants of the Province a free patent for 140 acres of land, in extinguishment of their Indian title; but the question was raised as to whether the legal construction of the Manitoba Act permitted the heads of families to obtain any share of the 1,400,000 acres reserved by the Act. This question having been submitted to the law officers of the Crown, they decided that the half-breed heads of families were not so entitled; and the Government of the day then concluded that there would be such a reduction in the number of persons entitled to share, consequent upon the decision of the law officers of the Crown, as would permit of the children of half-breed heads of families born at the time of the transfer receiving an allotment at the rate of 190 acres each. The Indian title of the half-breed heads of families was extinguished, under an Act passed in 1874 (37 Victoria, chapter 20), by issuing scrip for $160 to each, that is to say, to the mother as well as to the father. Upon the census made under the direction of Lieutenant Governor Archibald an allotment was made to the half-breed children at the rate of 190 acres each, in 1873, all the lands affected having been previously surveyed with that object in view. It will be remembered, however, that in the fall of this year a change of Government took place, and the gentlemen who then became responsible for the administration of public affairs, in accordance with a general plan adopted for the purpose of discrediting the acts of their predecessors, and also for the purpose of finding employment for their hungry followers, rushed to the conclusion that the half-breed census was in some way or another deficient, and that they must make a new examination into the claims and obtain a new enumeration of the claimants. In May, 1875, nearly two years after this matter had been satisfactorily closed by an allotment made under the auspices of their predecessors, a commission, consisting of Mr. Matthew Ryan, of Montreal, and Mr. J. M. Machar, of Kingston, was sent out to visit the several parishes and make this new enumeration. The final report of this commission was submitted to the Governor General in Council in March, 1876; but examination shows that the commissioners themselves admitted their work to be incomplete, and the agent of Dominion lands, at Winnipeg, was authorised to continue the enumerations. In consequence of the incompleteness of the examination and

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enumeration made by Messrs. Machar and Ryan, the actual number of half-breed children entitled to share in the 1,400,000 acres was grossly underestimated; but with all its errors, the Government preferred the work of their own incompetent enumerators, performed in the most perfunctory manner, some six years after the date of the transfer, to the carefully compiled census made under the direction of Mr. Archibald, immediately after the transfer, and when the opportunities of ascertaining the facts must necessarily have been better than they were at the time of the investigation made by Messrs. Ryan and Machar. The actual number of claims enumerated by Ryan and Machar was 5,088; the Dominion lands agent, on the 10th August, 1876, reported 226 more; and the Minister of the Interior at the time jumped to the conclusion, upon what grounds no one can tell, that about 500 more half-breeds would probably be entitled to share in the allotment. So, with a largeness of heart unparalleled in their dealings with the half-breeds of Manitoba or any other section of the people of Canada, the Government decided that they would give to each half-breed child entitled to share in the reserve a free patent for 240 acres. This might look like liberality to the half-breeds, but if we take a peep behind the screen we find that before that date, apparently despairing of ever receiving patents for their lands, the majority of the claimants had disposed of their rights for a mere song, to speculative friends of the Government; and it was no doubt for the benefit of cormorants of this class that the hearts of Mr. Laird and his colleagues so suddenly expanded. If proof were wanted of this, it is easily to be found in the manner in which the work of apportioning the land amongst the rightful claimants was afterwards proceeded with. Not a solitary allotment upon this new and liberal basis was made until March, 1877, and when the present Government returned to office, in 1878, they found that the half-breeds of St. Boniface, St. Norbert, St. François Xavier, Baie St. Paul, and St. Agathe, containing more than one-half of the half-breed population, amongst whom the reserved lands were to be distributed, had not only not received their patents, but the allotments had not even been made. And thus, Mr. Speaker, you see that the Government of that day, who, if they had taken the census of Mr. Archibald, would have found full and ample indemnity and compensation for the rights, real or supposed, of the half-breeds of Manitoba, cut them down one-half, handed over 240 acres, instead of the 150 or the 190, to the white speculators, their friends, who had bought these claims. And now, what do we find? We find that the difference between the 5,000 and the 10,000 are now on the plains, and now they are claiming the amounts which those hon. gentlemen deprived them of when they were in Government. They are now claiming the land, and they find an advocate in the hon. member for Durham (Mr. Blake). They claim the lands which they ought to have got long ago  --  not to such an extent, certainly, but to a reasonable extent, if the Government of that time had accepted the census taken under Mr. Archibald, instead of cutting it down one half, in order to double the value to their own friends of that day. But, Sir, to speak a little more of the conduct of the Government of that day, let me call the attention of the House for a moment to the conduct of the Minister, through his own officer, Mr. Ryan. Mr. Ryan was one of the commissioners appointed to enquire into these claims. He got his commisssion extended, in order to get on the plains, in order to ascertain what the claims of those men were, who, from one reason or another had not been present to assert those claims. Well, Sir, Mr. Ryan telegraphed or wrote to the Department, to ask for leave to enquire into the claims of the people there. He asked for leave to go round on circuit and settle with those people. What did the hon. gentleman say ? He said: You shall do nothing of the kind. He said, as was stated in the paper which was partially read by the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Ryan was originally appointed with Mr. Machar. He afterwards had his commission extended, and he was told to go to the applicants and see what could be done. Mr. Ryan, among many other telegrams, sent the following:

28th June, 1878.  --  Half-breeds pressing me. Will time of investigation be extended.

Mr. Laird telegraphed from Battleford:

24th June, 1878.  --  Observe Mr. Ryan�s authority; investigate half-breeds� claims under order 14th June, 1876, lapsed; recommend time be extended one year; he is now here; applicants waiting answer.

He was refused that time; the enquiry was never made  -- 

Mr. MILLS: The hon. gentleman knows that Mr. Ryan�s time was extended, and that Mr. Duff was appointed.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: And in a letter, dated Dominion Land Office, Winnipeg, 16th March, 1877. Mr. Codd, the agent of Dominion lands, writes to the Surveyor General:

I have the honor to submit for your consideration the enclosed communication from Mr. Police Magistrate Ryan, not considering that the matter is one coming properly within the sphere of my official duty. Without offering, therefore, a recommendation in the matter, permit to remark that it seems to me to be no part of the duties of the Government to compel, so to speak, the half-breeds to prove their claims.

That is Mr. Codd�s advice. Written across the face of that letter, in the handwriting of the hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills), the Minister of the Interior, at that time, are these words:

It is not necessary to look up parties who have claims. If they care for their interests, they themselves will come forward and establish their claims.

Thus it was, Sir, that the whole of the claims and rights of these people were ignored by the Government before we came in. It was stated that they had no greater claims than the whites, and I am not at all sure that the hon. gentleman was not right in his logic; but, at the same time, if that be so, I cannot understand the long indictment which the hon. gentleman has delivered against the successors of the Government of which he was a member. Now, Sir, the question was one of very great difficulty. As I have already stated, the settlement in Manitoba and for Manitoba was for that Province alone. There were very few half-breeds outside of the boundaries of the Province of Manitoba. Whether they had claims, or whether they had not claims, it was necessary that peace should be restored; it was necessary that a Government should be established; it was necessary that the new Province of Manitoba should be organised; and therefore this grant of 1,400,000 acres was made to the half-breeds having possessory rights along the Assiniboine and the Red Rivers. Outside of those cases, the question was altogether open, as the hon. gentleman's despatch shows. Now, the half-breeds must be considered either as white men or as Indians. A great many of them chose to be considered as Indians, to go to the bands of their brothers to enjoy all the advantages of the treaties, to get their annuities, their supplies, and the presents that were given to them. Others said: No; we are white men; we will be considered as white men; we will have the right of white men; and if so, they had the same rights as other white men living outside of the Province of Manitoba, who had settled before the 15th of July, 1870. Now, Sir, these rights have never been denied to them. Not one half-breed has ever been dispossessed of his land. Not one white settler who was in that country at any time before we acquired it, has ever been dispossessed of his lands. Not one act of depression has been announced by the hon. gentleman ; no man has come to him and said I have lost my land, I have lost my patrimony, I have lost my house. No man has said he is not in the same complete and happy and undisturbed possession of his land as he

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was in 1870. Aye, Sir, it is so; there is no pretence that there has been any oppression or any eviction; there is no pretence that there has been any ousting of any man, woman or child in the great North-West by the action, direct or indirect of the Government. Mind you, we only got the Province in 1870; we have only been able to introduce, by small degrees, anything like government or organisation since 1870. The thing was going on quietly but slowly, I must say, between 1870 and 1873, when the responsibility of the Government of that country devolved on hon. gentlemen opposite. From 1873 to 1878 that country was stagnant; from 1873 to 1878 not one single step was taken to vindicate the rights of the Indian or the half-breeds, or to assert the rights of the white man; from 1873 to 1878 is a blank leaf in the history of Canada. What step did that Government take in order to assert the rights of the half-breeds? What step did they take, in order to settle the boundary question of the boundary between man and man? What step did they take to survey the lands along the rivers? Look at that plan, and it will show what they did in their five years, and it will show what we did since we came back to office. They did nothing: they took no steps whatever. To be sure, the people went on, and they went on happily, and they would have gone on happily to this moment, had it not been that after the Conservative Government came in the whole end and aim of the Opposition was to excite and arouse those people. During five years they were quite ignorant of their wrongs; during five years they did not know they were suffering; they lived under their own roof-tree; they had their house, be it a humble turf house, or a wooden house, or be it a tent; and during the five years those hon. gentlemen were in they did not complain; they did not know they were wronged; they did not know they were trodden down and oppressed. It required the teaching of hon. gentlemen opposite and the radical press that they were going to lose their property, that they were oppressed, downtrodden, and I charge distinctly upon the Grit party and their associates in this House and out of the House, not only the responsibility but all the consequences. Why should the people, from 1878 to 1884, be more unhappy than were the people from 1873 to 1878? Was there any difference in their circumstances? Was there any attempt made to deprive them of the land and to change their position for the worse. No, they stood exactly, in March, 1885, as they did in the hon. gentleman's time. They were happy, peaceful and contented, until they were told by political agitators for political purposes  --  and for more sordid purposes than political purposes. In the great game of politics, parties some times go to great extremes; parties on both sides do what may not be considered within the strict lines of rectitude.

Mr. MILLS: Hear, hear; Franchise Bill.

Sir JOHN A . MACDONALD: I hear the hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills) talking about rectitude. I have shown him up a little. The hon. gentleman who comes here to support the hon. member for the west riding (Mr. Blake), and who, from the beginning of his administration, tried to keep down and crush and destroy the interests and the rights, or, rather, the claims, of those people which he is now advocating. But I say that both political parties may exceed the rules of rectitude. There is something large in the ground; something large in the political field. But there is not that excuse in this case. The game is not so much for political advantage, but it is for the purpose of enabling the land grabbers and speculators, who have a hold on these poor people, to make the most out of them. I believe the most of the claims of these poor people in the North-West are now mortgaged; I believe they have made assignments of them to white men, and that these people will not be any richer by their claims being allowed. Perhaps the hon. member for Huron knows something about buying these claims?

Mr. CAMERON (Huron): Ask the hon. member for Hastings (Mr. White) and the hon. Minister of Customs.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: My hon. friend near me (Mr. Bowell) just puts me in mind of a circumstance a propos of the frequent interruptions of the hon. member for Huron (Mr. Cameron). The hon. member for the west riding (Mr. Blake) complained of the delays in issuing the patents, and the hon. member for Huron (Mr. Cameron) will, I dare say, make a speech about the delay in issuing the patents. Well, in the office of the Department of Interior there is a letter from the hon. gentleman, insisting that no patent shall issue to a certain man, because the hon. gentleman has a claim against him of $3,000.

Mr. CAMERON (Huron): Why should he not?

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: It is men like him whom we charge with all the discontent in the North-West: men who have gone there to make their fortune by some means or other; men who get hold of the people  --  and when they say: Oh, the patents ought to be issued; we ought not to allow speculators to hold the country; we ought to have the patents issued on the very day; we ought to protect the settlers against the speculator and the shaver, the people going in with money to fleece the settlers  --  when this cry is raised we find it raised by men like the hon. gentleman, who will vote and attack the Government for delay in issuing patents, and who, yet, is one of those who will ask that a patent be delayed in order that he may get his pound of flesh. When we took office, in 1878, we had to consider this question. The Government before us had altogether ignored the rights of the half-breeds; they had refused to listen to the representations of their own agent, Mr. Matthew Ryan, made under his own hand. Until 1879 there was no legal power, and the Government before us did not ask that power to deal honestly or fairly with the claims of the half-breeds. We only came in in November, 1878, but in the Parliament of 1879 we took power to deal with that subject, according to the best of our discretion. We wished to do the best for the North-West; we wished to do the best for the half-breeds and the country generally; we could have no other object in view. We had just come into power, after a defeated, a discredited Administration had gone out, with the united voice of the majority of the people. We had everything to gain by doing what was right, and we attempted to do what was right. What did we do? We wrote to the leading men of the North-West. We wrote to Archbishop Taché and to the other bishops, of whom the hon. gentleman has spoken; we wrote to Mr. Laird, and we got their opinions, and their opinions were united against the granting of scrip; their opinions were united against giving patents to the half-breeds. The hon. gentleman did not read that Col. Denis, my respected, and worthy, and able deputy, who now, I am sorry to say, is retired, wrote that remarkable despatch to which the hon. gentleman alluded, a despatch creditable to him in some degree creditable to me, as sanctioning every word he wrote, asking the best advice we could get as to what we would do with these people, to save them from their own improvidence and grant them their rights, so far as was consistent with the general prosperity of the country. At the expense of being a little tedious, I will look over what these hon. gentlemen have said. The confidential despatch or letter of Col. Dennis I need not read, because it has been alluded to with sufficient fulness [sic] by the hon. gentleman, but let us take the answer of Archbishop Taché. Nobody can doubt that he was a

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friend of the Indian; nobody can doubt that he was a friend of the half-breeds, and that, when he was writing back to the Department, he was pleading the cause of the half-breeds and fighting their battles, and pointing out, whether pleasing or unpleasing to them, their interests. And what does he say? Does he advocate the granting of the scrip? Does he advocate the giving away of the lands? No; his opinion was quite in reverse. The hon. gentleman read a portion of this letter, in which he stated that the half-breeds are a highly sensitive race, that they feel and resent injury or insult; in fact, that they were daily humiliated in regard to their origin, and so on. Let us see what the Archbishop says:

Every one acknowledges the desirability for the half-breeds to settle definitively on lands, to cultivate them. Here is a scheme I take the liberty to propose:
  1. I estimate the half-breed population actually in the North-West to number about twelve hundred families. Let the Government make twelve reserves for them, in the very places the half-breeds themselves will like to have them.
  2. Each reserve should be for one hundred families at least, and contain an area of twelve square miles of available land, that is to say, the extent of four townships.
  3. All the half-breeds, men, women and children, residing in the North-West on the lst January, 1879, ought to receive two more negotiable scrips for eighty acres of land each, to be located by them in anyone of the twelve above-mentioned reserves.
  4. Said lands could neither be sold, mortgaged nor taxed, before they should have passed through the hands of, at least, the third generation of those who receive them, or of their representatives. I say, at least, because I am strongly inclined to believe that it is desirable that such land be entirely unalienable; and such an idea cannot seem unreasonable to those who consider the advantages deriving from a similar policy, with regard to real and unalienable estates of noble men.

Now, every half-breed in the North-West, if he does not claim as an Indian and has not accepted as an Indian, belonging to an Indian band and enjoying all the advantages of an Indian, and they are great, because the treaties are liberal, the annuities are large, the supply of implements, cattle, seeds, and so on, is very generous, on the whole  --  and any half-breed who chooses to be an Indian can go with his tribe  --  but any half-breed who says I will be considered a white man has all the privileges of a white man; he can get his 160 acres, and after three years' cultivation he gets his land. Here is the friend of the half-breeds, Archbishop Taché, who says he shall not get that, but shall only have a claim to land, shall not have the use of it, unless he cultivates it himself, but he shall not be able to alienate it, that he cannot mortgage it or sell it ; and who would take the land under these restrictions, when, under the more liberal law of the Dominion of Canada, every half-breed can enter himself for 160 acres and get his patent after three years, the same as an emigrant from Ontario and Quebec? So, when the Government took up the question which had been left on their hands unsettled, what was best to do for the half-breeds, they were, told by Archbishop Taché that the half-breeds would get no land, no matter whether they settled upon it, no matter whether they built a house of marble or a house of clay, that they should have no rights upon it till the third generation. When that was presented to us, do you not think we should consider and pause before we handed over those lands to these people? Archbishop Taché, knowing and believing, having well ascertained that the granting of land to these people would lead to their alienating it for a few dollars, if a man wanted to make a present to his wife of a dress, or if the husband could get the present of a few dollars, or, perhaps, in some cases, a few gallons of whiskey. If we look over the various recommendations of the various bodies, in the North-West we get the same result. Bishop MacLean who knew the country well, was not in favor of granting the patent for this land to these man. The bishop of Rupert�s Land, who has lately gone there, honestly says he has been too short a time there to judge, and therefore he gives no opinion. But what does the North-West council of 1878 say? The hon. gentleman quoted a portion but not the whole of it. I have not the original document, but I will read it from a letter of Mr. Matthew Ryan, who was a member of the council that passed the order. This was the resolution passed by the North-West council:

That in view a the fact that grants of land and issues of scrip were made to the half-breeds of Manitoba towards the extinction of the Indian title for the lands of that Province, there will be dissatisfaction among the half-breeds of the Territories unless they receive some like consideration; that this consideration would most tend to the advantage of the half-breeds were it given in the form of a non-transferable location ticket for, say, 160 acres to each half-breed head of a family, and to each half-breed child at the time of the transfer to Canada, the ticket to be issued immediately to any half-breed of eighteen years or over, who furnishes evidence of his claim; that each half-breed obtaining such location ticket should be allowed to locate it upon any unoccupied Dominion lands, but the title of the land so entered should remain in the Crown for ten years.

The recommendation of Archbishop Taché was that the title should be kept away from the half-breeds for three generations. The recommendation of the council was that it should be kept away for ten years. What was the policy of the Government? Go, take your 160 acres; take your pre-emption for 160 acres more, and you shall stand as well as a white man, and shall get your patent after three years, no matter what the Archbishop or the North-West council have told us. We, the Government of the Dominion of Canada, have more confidence in the half-breeds even than their own Archbishop and their own council. We say: We give you the land; occupy it, cultivate it, live on it, be happy on it, and at the end of three years you will get 160 acres, and you will stand free and independent, a freeholder, a yeoman, a free man in the North-West. You shall not be subject to this paternal Government which has been urged upon you by your own friends in the North-West. Although we are so far away, although we do not know you, although we are charged with dealing unjustly by you, we have more confidence in you than your own friends. We will not ask you to remain for three generations as slaves of the soil  --  to remain ten years without your deed. We tell you that in three years you may go and occupy your land, and may God's blessing be with you. Sir, that is the policy of the Government, and that is the policy the hon. gentleman has maligned, that he has condemned, that he would curse. The policy of the Government has been generous, it has been free, it has been considerate, and mind you, Mr. Speaker, the Government have held that the land that he has is found in occupation of, and that he had the right to on the 15th July, 1870, that it was his, and the Government could not deprive him of it. The Dominion Act gave it to him. Every man, woman and child, under the Dominion laws, passed, I do not know whether originally by us and afterwards amended by the hon. gentleman opposite, the Dominion Acts, one and all, declare that being in occupation of land before the Act passed they have now an inalienable right to their lands, no matter whether they are on odd-numbered or even-numbered sections. The Act says that in all unsurveyed lands the party, found in possesion [sic] shall retain possession of that land, not only the half-breeds, whether English or French, but every white settler, every man in the North-West, whether he is a Hudson Bay factor, or clerk, or runner  --  every one of them had their rights under the Dominion Lands Act. It did not, in any way, interfere with the rights of the settlers. Everyone of those men may say to us: We have occupied this land; this is ours; we will get out a deed for that, and that is secured to us by the Dominion Lands Act; but we will take up, as settlers, 160 acres of land elsewhere. Every half-breed has that right. No one could deprive him of it. No one could say: If you are going to take your 160 acres as a homestead, you will lose your land as an old settler. They had a right to both, and those claims have been rejected; those claims are now inherent. And I tell you this, as I said before, that no one, no man, no woman,

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has been dispossessed or distressed since the Government of Canada came into possession of that country. Well, Sir, what had the Government to do? We had all our friends; we had the Archbishop; we had even Mr. Jackson, of whom the hon. gentleman has spoken, who now represents the half-breeds in the North-West council; we had him stating that there should be no grant given to the half-breeds, except on condition of five years of continuous occupation. There was a conflict of opinion; I will not trouble the House with showing that there was an infinity of opinions; an infinity of advice was offered to the Government, how best to deal with the half-breeds, and the Government had only one thing to think of  --  what was the best for the people, what was it best to do for them, to save them even against their own improvidence, and at the same time not to keep back the settlement of the country. This, Mr. Speaker, may account, to any reasonable man, for what the hon. gentleman talks of as delay. They were not suffering anything. The half-breed had his own lot, he was not cultivating the land that he had. Giving him his land and giving him more land was giving him nothing. The nomadic half-breed, who had been brought up to hunt, having had merely his shanty to repair to in the dead season, when there was no game  --  what advantage was it to him to give him 160 or 240 acres more? It was of no use to him whatever, but it would have been of great use to the speculators who were working on him and telling him that he was suffering. Oh! How awfully he was suffering, ruined, destroyed, starving, because he did not got 240 acres somewhere else, or the scrip for it, that he might sell it for $50! No, Sir; the whole thing is a farce. Now, Mr. Speaker, we, at the last moment, made concessions, and we did it for the sake of peace. The Government knew, my hon. friend, Sir David Macpherson, the Minister of Interior, knew that we were not acting in the interests of the half-breeds in granting them scrip, in granting him the land. We had tried, after consulting man after man, expert after expert, to find what was best for the country, and we found, without one single exception, they were all opposed to granting unlimited scrip and immediate patents to the half-breeds. But, Sir, an agitation arose, and the hon. gentleman has rung the changes on Riel being brought into that country. Who brought him into the country? Not the Indians; not the half-breeds. The half-breeds did not pay the money. The white speculators in Prince Albert gave their money to Gabriel Dumont, and gave it to Lepine, and gave it to others. They had all got their assignments from the half-breeds; they had all got in their pockets the scrip or the assignment, and they sent down to bring Riel in as an agent to be a means of attaining their unhallowed ends. It is to the white men, it is to men of our own race and lineage, and not to the half-breeds, nor yet to the Indians, that we are to attribute the war, the loss of life, the loss of money, and the discredit that this country would have suffered had it not been for the gallant conduct of our volunteers. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am able to prove that there has been a deep-laid conspiracy. I am able to establish that the cry of the half-breed grievances was merely a pretext. I am able to show that white man after white man has entered into it. And I tell you this, further, Mr. Speaker  --  I do not mean in the least degree to impugn the hon. member for West Durham; I do not at all mean to say that he was in any way a party to it; but I tell him this, and I can prove this, that they have unscrupulously used his name and used the name of his party, and they have used that name, not only in the North-West with the half-breeds, not only along the frontier, but they have used it at Washington; at Washington his name has been quoted. I do not believe the hon. gentleman is liable to the charge; but it only shows that you cannot touch pitch without becoming fouled. The hon. gentleman, I know, in his anxiety to get evidence against this Government, in his anxiety to get evidence, no matter from whom or in what way  --  I can show, if need be, under his own handwriting and signature, that he has gone very far.

Mr. BLAKE: Show it.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: I will prove it, with very great reluctance. I do not know whether the hon. gentleman ever heard of a person called J. E. Brown.

Mr. BLAKE: Yes.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: Very well. J.E. Brown was a man formerly in the Mounted Police in the North-West. J.E. Brown living in that country employed himself in the very useful but perhaps unpopular occupation of trying to be a detective. J.E. Brown, in his anxiety, not only to extol the merits of the North-West but also, perhaps, to do a little in a pecuniary way, wrote to the hon. member for the west riding of Durham, and told him he could give him a good deal of information  --  and he would like to get a pass. The hon. gentleman said he could not give him a pass, but he would try to see him in Toronto, and if he could not do so, he would try and get a confidential friend to see him. I have not the man�s letter, but I have the hon. gentleman�s reply. The man must have written saying: I am going to apply for a survey from the Dominion Government; it will prove rather inconvenient to me if I lost the office, and therefore, perhaps, you will not use my name in that connection, but treat it confidentially, until after I get the appointment. Then, of course, I will give you the information. The hon. gentleman answered him, that he would keep all his communications confidential until after he had got the office. J.E. Brown was to come to the Government here, and was to go on his knees and say he was a friend of the Government, and appeal to the Government and get employment on a survey, and then supply the hon. gentleman with information. The hon. gentleman indicates that I have not got those letters.

Mr. BLAKE: I do not say you have not got these letters.

Sir JOHN A . MACDONALD: Then we will read them.
Mr. Blake writes:

OTTAWA, 7th May.
I have your letter of the 6th, and should be very glad inded [sic] to learn from you any facts connected with the management of affairs in the North-West Territories. I would willingly comply with your request for a pass to Ottawa if it were in my power, but I have no means of procurring [sic] railway passes. It is possible, though by no means certain, I may be in Toronto for a few hours within the next few days, and if so I would try to arrange an interview with you, or if I am unable to manage that, I can arrange an interview with a confidential friend of mine, who would note down, for my own ear only, all you should choose to communicate, if this would be agreeable to you.
Yours faithfully,
EDWARD BLAKE.

That is the prologue to the play.

OTTAWA, 12th May, 1885.
DEAR SIR,  --  I have your letter, and will ask a friend to make an appointment with you. I will take care, as you desire, that your name shall not be used to your prejudice. I will not disclose it until you have had ample opportunity of securing an appointment for the surveys this year, if you are fortunate enough to do so. But I fancy there will not be a great deal of surveying done. I should gladly assist you in procuring employment if it were in my power, but I have no means of forwarding your interests in this respect. With thanks for your good wishes,
I am, yours faithfully,
EDWARD BLAKE.

In the hon. gentleman's anxiety to show what a wicked Government this is, to prove how derelict it is in its duty, that it deserves the censure of the country, he tells this man to go on, apply for a position on the surveys, get it if he can, although he does not think there will be many surveys this year, and he will not reveal his name until after he has got the appointment. Then information is to be given by

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this man who came on his knees to the Government, to show how the Government were injuriously affecting the interests of the country. That is not the way an hon. member usually gets information. We find, in consequence of the continual pressure of the white men, in consequence of the fact that the half-breeds at Prince Albert were the slaves of the white men, of the fact that they held meetings and might rise in arms or might do whatever the white men chose to ask them to do  --  we made up our mind that although we did not consider it for the interest of the people in the Territories, yet if they would accept nothing else, and we offered them 160 acres of land  --  if they would place themselves at the mercy of cormorants, who were ruining them and holding them as slaves, and continually keeping up an agitation, we cannot help it; we will give you scrip, although we know it is not in your interest, and it will be thrown away, and will be secured by people who will give you the smallest possible sum for it; but we cannot help it; this matter must be settled. I do not hesitate to say that I did it with the greatest reluctance. I do not easily yield, if there is a better course open; but at the very last moment I yielded, and I said: �Well, for God's sake let them have the scrip; they will either drink it or waste it or sell it; but let us have peace.� And my successor, my respeted [sic] and able successor, Sir David Macpherson, acted upon that decision, which was carried out in January. At that time we know there was a discontented people; that the white people were making trouble. I say, and I appeal to the judgment of the House to say, if we did not act as we ought to have acted when, in 1879, when we took possession of the Government, when we found that the Government who were behind us had taken not a single step to settle this question; when we found that the Government had denied the right of the half-breed; when the whole thing was thrown upon us  --  if we did not act wisely, afterwards when we took power, when we went to the chief men of the country, to the men who were known to be friends of the half-breeds, when we went to the hierarchy and the clergy, both Catholic and Protestant; we went to everybody who could give us information, and they were unanimous in saying that it was wrong that this scrip should be used in this way, and that the land could be got possession of for little or nothing. We held out as long as we could, but such was the influence of the half-breeds, who already got a share of their lands in Manitoba, that they went to the North-West, they became dwellers on the plains, they played Indians, and pretended that they lived in Manitoba; that they were suffering; that their Manitoba friends had got lands and scrip; and nine-tenths of the men claiming it had already got scrip, and were attempting to put up bargains in the North-West. Fourteen out of seventeen petitioners, in one case, were shown to have got lands already in Manitoba. Isidore Dumont, brother of Gabriel Dumont, had land; he applied again, and it was one of his grievances that he did not get more land in the North-West. Gabriel Dumont got not only his 160 acres, as promised, but he had the best house in Batoche; and so it was with very many of these men  --  they had already got their lands and scrip, but they were greedy to get more. Appetite grew with eating; and though they had got all much more than originally by law they ought to have got, they are clamoring for more. If time would permit, I could prove many such cases; but perhaps, I may take another occasion, as the hon. gentleman has said we are going to hear from him again on this subject  --  I may take another occasion to show that the fact of the half-breed not getting, at the moment he wants it, his scrip or his claim for 240 acres, was a mere pretence; yet Riel, from the beginning, when he went into the country until he left, went there for the purpose of making money. He came there for the most sordid purposes possible, and he told all kinds of lies. Among other things, he said that the hon. member for East York, when he was in the Government offered him $20,000, and I offered him $30,000  --  he remembered perhaps, the old matter, when he got some money on the frontier, in order to clear away. One of the letters read to-day by the hon. gentleman was that he had been promised a senatorship or a seat in the Cabinet. He came there, and he ruled these men for the most sordid purposes. The white men in Prince Albert and the vicinity, or many of them, subscribed to bring him there, and encouraged him there, for the sake of making a little fuss and drawing attention to Prince Albert and for the sake of threatening the Government into settling the claims of the half-breeds, or, in other words, putting money into their pockets. Sir, I shall not detain the House any longer on the subject. As the hon. gentleman has stated, it is a subject which cannot rest here. This subject must be fully dealt with. I have not alluded to the statements of the hon. gentleman, with respect to the land regulations, the treatment of the whites; and these questions the hon. gentleman has ingeniously mixed up with the question he brought before the House. He has been preparing himself for, I will not say how long, while this House was studiously and earnestly discussing the Franchise Bill; while they were occupied night and day working out that great problem, the hon. gentleman was diving into this question. Well, he has dived into it, and he has gone pretty low into its depths. The hon. gentleman first took up the half-breeds, then the land laws, then the whites, then the colonisation companies  --  and I do not know what else. But let him take each subject separately, clause by clause, sentence by sentence, impeachment by impeachment, charge by charge, and deal with them, and I shall meet him, and convince this House that the charges are groundless, that the Government are safe and sound, in the opinions of the people and of the country, because they have done what they believed to be the best in their judgment, ought to be done; and because I know that although perhaps they may have made occasional mistakes, although in the tentative process of settling a new country, they have committed, perhaps, an occasinal [sic] error, they were not too proud to change; and when they came to the conclusion that they had committed an error, they did not indulge in the miserable vanity of thinking they could do no wrong. When they found that any of their conclusions, from their own judgment or on reference to their responsible officers, had better be altered, they were brave enough and honest enough to admit the error, and cure the error, and make amendment. What was the consequence? Sir, I believe we stand well among the whites of the North-West. I know we stand well with the red men of the North-West.

Mr. MILLS: Hear, hear.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: The hon. gentleman says hear hear, but I can prove by the testimony of every Indian that has been in arms  --  of Poundmaker, and Big Bear, and Beardy, and Little Pine, and Little Poplar, and all those Indians  --  I can show to you, not only that they have been well treated, but that those who have been their guardians, their clergy, and those who watched over them, admit that the Indians had no wrongs to redress; and if you will read the press of the North-West, read such papers as the Saskatchewan Herald, and will find that we were wrong  --  that we have been pampering and coaxing the Indians; that we must take a new course, we must vindicate the position of the white man, we must teach the Indians what law is; we must not pauperise them, as they say we have been doing.

Mr. MILLS: Hear, hear.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: The hon. gentleman says hear, hear. Why, Sir, I have come to this House again

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and again and stated the case of the Indians. I have said it was a case of hardship, and we could not, as christian men, allow them to starve. We have done all we could to put them on themselves; we have done all we could to make them work as agriculturists; we have done all we could, by the supply of cattle, agricultural implements and instruction, to change them from a nomadic to an agricultural life. We have had very considerable success; we have had infinitely more success during our short period, than the United States have had during twenty-five years. We have had a wonderful success; but still we have had the Indians; and then in these half-breeds, enticed by white men, the savage instinct was awakened; the desire of plunder  --  aye, and, perhaps, the desire of scalping  --  the savage idea of a warlike glory, which pervades the breast of most men, civilised or uncivilised, was aroused in them, and forgetting all the kindness that had been bestowed upon them, forgetting all the gifts that had been given to them, forgetting all that the Government, the white people and the Parliament of Canada had been doing for them, in trying to rescue them from barbarity; forgetting that we had given them reserves, the means to cultivate those reserves, and the means of education how to cultivate them  --  forgetting all these things, they rose against us. Why, Sir, we are not responsible for that; we cannot change the barbarian, the savage, into a civilised man. Look at the United States; consider the millions that they have expended in defending their frontier; look at the war that is now going on on the south-western frontier, where there is infinitely more loss of life among the tribes of Apaches than has occurred in all our North-West. It is an inglorious war, and there has been a great loss of life; but Americans do not take the part of the rebel and the traitor; that is reserved for the leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Canada. We acquired the North-West country in 1870. Not a life was lost, not a blow was struck, not a pound nor a dollar was spent in warfare, in that long period that has since intervened. I have not hesitated to tell this House, again and again, that we could not always hope to maintain peace with the Indians; that the savage was still a savage, and that until he ceased to be savage, we were always in danger of a collision, in danger of war, in danger of an outbreak. I am only surprised that we have been able so long to maintain peace  --  that from 1870 until 1885 not one single blow, not one single murder, not one single loss of life, has taken place. Look at the United States; along the whole frontier of the United States there has been war; millions have been expended there; their best and their bravest have fallen. I personally know General Custer, and admired the gallant soldier, the American hero; yet he went, and he fell with his band, and not a man was left to tell the tale  --  they were all swept away. The American army have suffered by hundreds; the American Treasury has been depleted by millions. We have, from a combination of unfortunate circumstances, had one war inconsiderately commenced, wickedly commenced, criminally commenced by the instigators. We put that down speedily and gallantly; and, Sir, it is one consolation, that if we have seen young men sacrificed, if we have lost from this House, as a consequence of that war, one of the most respected members, they went up there of their own accord to fight the battle of their country; they have gained glory and distinction, and they have convinced, not only us  --  we do not want that conviction  --  but the mother country, in whose good opinion we take so much pride, that we have as good a militia as their own, that we have men who, untrained as they are, still can listen to the voice of discipline, and will do everything they are called upon to do to maintain the credit of their country. Their action has raised the credit of Canada, not only among the right-minded thinking men of the world, but even in the sordid purlieus of the stock exchange. The credit of Canada has risen, because Canada has shown, as a vindicator of herself, that she is worthy of being a nation, and worthy of the credit of the world.

Mr. LAURIER: moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to.

Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD: moved the adjournment of the House.

Motion agreed to; and the House adjourned at 1:10 a.m., Tuesday.


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Source: Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Debates of the House of Commons. 5th Parliament, 3rd Session (June 6, 1885-July 20, 1885). Ottawa: Maclean, Roger & Co., 1885. Pages 3110-3119.


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