IN THB CASE
CONVICTED OF TREASON,
REPORT OF SIR ALEXANDER CAMPBELL,
Ottawa 25th November, 1885.
Memorandum rejecting the case of The Queen v. Riel prepared at the request of the
Committee of the Privy Council
The case of Louis Riel, convicted and executed for high treason, has excited
unusual attention and interest, not merely in the Dominion of Canada bat beyond it8
limits. Here it has been made the subject of party, religions, and national feeling
and discussion; and elsewhere it has been regarded by some as a case in which for
the first time in this generation, what is assumed to have been a political crime
only has been punished with death.
The opponents of the Government have asserted that the rebellion was pro-
voked, if not justified, by their maladministration of the affairs of the North-West
Territories, and inattention to the just claims of the half-breeds.
With this question, which has been made one of party politics, it is not thought
becoming to deal here.
Upon such a charge, when made in a constitutional manner, the Government
will be responsible to the representatives of the people, and before them they will
be prepared to meet and disprove it.
Appeals to the animosities of race have been made in one of the Provinces with
momentary success. Should these prevail, the future of the country must suffer.
Parliament will not meet for some time, and in the interval, unless some action is
taken to remove these animosities, they will gain ground, and it will become more
difficult to dispel belief in the grounds which are used to provoke them. ...
It has been asserted that the trial was an unfair one, and before a tribunal not
legally constituted; that the crime being one of rebellion and inspired by political
motives, the sentence, according to modern custom and sentiment, should not have
been carried out; and that the prisoner's state of mind was such as to relieve him from
responsibility for his acts.
After the most anxious consideration of each one of these grounds the Govern-
ment have felt it impossible to give effect to any of them, and have deemed it their
duty to let the law take its course.
I am now desired, in a matter of such grave importance and responsibility, to
place on record the considerations which have impelled them to this conclusion :
(Minister of Justice during the proceedings against BieL)
"In the Case of Louis Riel, Convicted of Treason and Executed Therefor" Google books permissions for use
A NOTABLE CHANGE OF FRONT
took place along the whole line of the Reform press after the execu-
tion of Riel, showing that it was not for love of justice, but for
party purposes that the Olobe, its satellites and the Grit party had
hounded down Riel and his dupes. Then it was suddenly discovered
that Riel's course was justifiable — at any rate that he was insane, and
had been unfairly tried. It was ascertained that he had fallen a
victim to the Orange thirst for blood, and that his execution was a
" judicial murder." On the 20th of March the Globe was clear that
" the Government is now on trial for having executed the leader oi
" the insurrection ; " that " the execution was a cruel, a barbarous, au
" impolitic, an unstatesmanlike, and a totally unnecessary act." Mr.
Blake declared in the House of Commons, on March 15th, that he
was " unable honestly to differ from the view that it is to be deeply
" regretted that this execution should have been allowed to take place."
Commenting on this, the Port Hope Times said: " We extend our hearty
" sympathies to our Quebec brethren, and we assure them in the name
" of the Liberal party that they have hosts of friends in Ontario."
"Reform, race, and revenge [microform] : the rise and progress of the Riel movement in Quebec and Ontario"
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