Assiniboia [Manitoba], Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia Debates [on Confederation] (6 May 1870)
By: Assiniboia (Legislative Assembly)
Citation: Manitoba, Reconstituted Debates of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, 1870, 2010 at 96-101.
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Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia
Assembly Chamber, Upper Fort Garry
Friday, 6 May 1870
The President took the chair at half-past two P.M.
The minutes having been read and approved,
The President addressed the Assembly, alluding to the present excitement in
Canada concerning this country, and went on to say,— I desire to prove to the Canadian Confederacy that here in Rupert’s Land we are not divided — that we are acting in concert — and that we protest against the sentiments recently avowed in public in Western Canada, concerning us. But I merely submit the matter to this hon. House.
List of Rights
1. That the territory of the North-West enter into the Confederation of the Dominion of Canada as a province, with all the privileges common with all the different provinces in the Dominion.That this province be governed:
- By a Lieut.-Governor, appointed by the Governor-General of Canada.
- By a Senate.
- By a Legislature chosen by the people with a responsible Ministry.
2. That, until such time as the increase of the population in this country entitle us to a greater number, we have two representatives in the Senate, and four in the House of Commons of Canada.
3. That in entering the Confederation, the Province of the North-West be completely free from the public debt of Canada; and if called upon to assume a part of the said debt of Canada, that it be only after having received from Canada the same amount for which the said Province of the North-West should be held responsible.
4. That the annual sum of $80,000 be allotted by the Dominion of Canada to the Legislature of the Province of the North-West.
5. That all properties, rights and privileges enjoyed by us up to this day be respected, and that the recognition and settlement of customs, usages and privileges be left exclusively to the decision of the Local Legislature.
6. That this country be submitted to no direct taxation except such as may be imposed by the Local Legislature for municipal or other local purposes.
7. That the schools be separate, and that the public money for schools be distributed among the different religious denominations in proportion to their respective population according to the system of the Province of Quebec.
8. That the determination of the qualifications of members for the Parliament of the Province, or for the Parliament of Canada be left to the Local Legislature.
9. That in this province, with the exception of the Indians who are neither civilized, nor settled, every man having attained the age of twenty-one years, and every foreigner being a British subject, after having resided three years in this country, and being possessed of a house, be entitled to vote at the elections for the members of the Local Legislature, and of the Canadian Parliament, and that every foreigner other than a British subject, having resided here during the same period, and being proprietor of a house, be likewise entitled to vote on condition of taking the oath of allegiance. [It is understood that this article is subject to amendment by the Local Legislature exclusively.]
10. That the bargain of the Hudson’s Bay Company with respect to the transfer of government of this country to the Dominion of Canada, never have in any case an effect prejudicial to the rights of NorthWest.
11. That the Local Legislature of this province have full control over all the lands of the North-West.
12. That a commission of engineers, appointed by Canada, explore the various districts of the NorthWest, and lay before the Local Legislature, within the space of five years, a report of the minerals [wealth] of the country.
13. That treaties be concluded between Canada and the different Indian tribes of the North-West at the request and with the co-operation of the Local Legislature.
14. That an uninterrupted steam communication from Lake Superior to Fort Garry be guaranteed to be completed within the space of five years, as well as the construction of a railroad connecting the American railway, as soon as the latter reaches the international boundary.
15. That all public buildings and constructions be at the cost of the Canadian exchequer.
16. That both the English and French languages be common in the Legislature and in the courts; and that all public documents as well as the Acts of the Legislature, be published in both languages.
17. That the Lieutenant-Governor to be appointed for the Province of the North-West be familiar with both the English and French languages.
18. That the Judge of the Supreme Court speak the English and French languages.
19. That all debts contracted by the Provisional Government of the Territory of the North-West, now called Assiniboia, in consequence of the illegal and inconsiderate measures adopted by Canadian officials to bring about a civil war in our midst, be paid out of the Dominion Treasury, and that none of the members of the Provisional Government, or any of those acting under them, be in any way held liable, or responsible, with regard to the movement, or any of the actions which led to the present negotiations.
20. That in view of the present exceptional position of Assiniboia, duties upon goods imported into the province shall, except in the case of spirituous liquors, continue as at present for at least three years from the date of our entering the confederation, and for such further time as may elapse until there be uninterrupted railroad communication between Winnipeg and St. Paul, and also steam communication between Winnipeg and Lake Superior.
I do not insist on it. If hon. members desire to adopt any such protest, it will be for them to say. It might, perhaps, be deemed unnecessary that this House should take any action in the premises.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Bannatyne, the consideration of the question was postponed, and Hon. Mr. Bunn having taken the chair, at the request of the President, the House resumed the consideration of the Law Committee report.
Article I under the head “Hay” having been put,
Hon. Mr. Hay, seconded by Hon. T. Sinclair, moved that the time for cutting hay outside the four mile line be changed from the twenty-first July, to the twenty-fifth July.
Hon. Mr. Touron, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bannatyne, moved in amendment that the Article, as reported, be adopted.— Carried on a division — Yeas 12; nays 9.
Articles II and III carried.
Article I under the head “Roads” was moved by Hon. Mr. Bannatyne, seconded by Hon. Mr. Norquay. It was as follows:—
“That all public roads remain the width they have been laid out till other arrangements are considered necessary by the Legislature.”
Hon. Mr. De Lorme, seconded by Hon. Mr. McKay, moved in amendment:—
“That all public roads shall be at least thirty-three yards wide, that is to say, free from fences, buildings, or any other encumbrance or obstacle within such width unless by public sanction.”
Hon. Dr. Bird said — The amendment, even for what it was intended, is obviously too little. It does not actually prevent the road from being narrowed. At present the principal public road, chiefly on the west bank of the river, is two chains wide, and by passing this law you enable the settlers to take each half a chain off its present width. This can even be done in the town under the proposed article. On the other hand there is the road across the main river which has been in some way used as a public road. In some places it is a chain and in others only thirty feet wide.
This road, remember, is not a purchased road. It was given to the public by certain persons and extends from the French Cathedral to somewhere about Mapleton. I have taken care to get some information from the Inspector of Roads on this subject, and he says, in reference to the public highway — It is defined in the Local Laws that it shall be two chains wide. But I found part of it obstructed. The two chains were not given in these places; and when the parties were asked to remove the obstructions they would not do so. I bring this forward from the Inspector, to show that this road was never to say public property.
So much land was given by proprietors along the line of road on conditions made with a former government that the road should not be above such a width. Under the circumstances, and until other arrangements with the government are made by the proprietors, it would be manifestly unjust to deal with this land as proposed. If an order is given by the Legislature to survey a wider road, in that case property holders have to get some compensation.
Hon. Mr. DeLorme did not agree with Hon. Dr. Bird. He knew that above, on the main river, and the Assiniboine, too, the fences were sometimes disposed in such a way that the roads were only a few feet wide, and in consequence of this there was hardly such a thing as passing on these roads in winter. They certainly are not made wide enough as they are.
Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue said — There are a good many points in the Hon. Dr. Bird’s argument in which I cordially agree with him. Where a road two chains wide has been given to the public and used as such, it should remain a public road,— more particularly in the case of a leading highway, such as the road on the west bank, that through the White Horse Plains district, and that threading the lower districts. These are the three principal thoroughfares, and no one, I am sure, would desire to see them narrower.
I can easily imagine too that there are places on, perhaps, both rivers where the roads could not be made the full thirty-three yards wide without causing great annoyance and expense to private persons and to the public as well. Houses and fences might have to be removed and paid for, and other expense incurred. Roads had been opened, such as the Hon. Dr. Bird referred to, where land had been given liberally by the people themselves, though not to the width of two chains. In these cases, should the Legislature determine on widening the road to two chains, they might have as I said not only to remove several houses, buildings and fences and compensate the owners, but they would also have to buy the additional land required.
Where the two chains were not given already, and the public desired the full width, the additional land would certainly have to be bought by them; for if a man is generous enough to give the public thirty feet at one time, if by-and-bye they need sixty feet, they must certainly buy the remainder. In conclusion the hon. gentleman said he would support the motion.
Hon. Mr. McKay supported the amendment, believing that roads ought to be at least thirty-three yards wide. He did not think that any person had a right to put up fences and make the road narrower than at least thirty-three yards. Because in one section of the settlement the road runs through a beautiful forest, and is narrow, that is no reason why the rest of the Settlement should be deprived of good roads. In cases where the road ran through heavily timbered land I would have no objection to its being only twenty feet wide. But in the other sections, where there is no forest, I think it ought to be as wide as possible,— say two or three chains.
Hon. J. Sinclair said — I think it is not very hard to have a road two chains wide up here where it is all plain: but below if you want to make the road of the width mentioned in the amendment you will have to pull down a great many houses and fencing.
Hon. Mr. Tait [illegible: advanced?] the motion.
The amendment lost on a division — Yeas 6; nays 15. And the motion carried — Yeas 13; nays 3.
Article II carried.
On motion of Hon. Dr. Bird, seconded by Hon. Mr. Hay, Article III carried, with the addition of the words, “as well as for all damages caused by neglect of his duty,” after the words “public works,” in the fifth line.
Article IV was as follows:—
“IV. Every person who gives or sells fermented or spirituous liquor to Indians outside of the jurisdiction of any Court, but within the bounds of this country, shall be liable to a fine of not more than twenty-five pounds sterling.”
Hon. Dr. Bird, seconded by Hon. Mr. Hay, moved that this Article be struck out.— Carried.
The House took a recess for fifteen minutes.
Business having been resumed, Article XVII, which had been postponed, was put, as follows:—
“XVII. When a Judgment debt is not paid at the time appointed by the Court, the Sheriff shall be obliged, at the request of the creditor, and on presentation of the record of such judgment, signed by the Clerk of the Court, to proceed at once to seize the goods and chattels or other property of said debtor; and on giving fourteen days public notice, to sell the same by public auction, so far as necessary to satisfy the debt, and all necessary expenses connected with such sale; provided always that said debtor be not deprived of necessary household furniture or utensils, or of such implements as he must necessarily have, to carry on his usual trade. Failing such goods, chattels, or other property available for Sheriff’s sale, the debtor may be imprisoned on the conditions specified in local law, No. 13.”
Hon. Dr. Bird, seconded by Hon. W. Tait, moved that the Article be adopted, with the following amendments:— That the words “animals or” be inserted before the word “implements” in the sixteenth line [of the] printed report, and that the word
“avocation” be substituted for the word “trade,” in the eighteenth line — Carried.
This finished the Law Committee report.
Hon. Mr. Hay, seconded by Hon. Mr. T. Sinclair, then moved that every member serving on any committee be allowed twenty shillings per diem for every day he serves, and that the hon. the Treasurer be authorised to pay this amount.— Carried.
The House then adjourned.