UK, House of Commons, “Canada—Martial Law”, vol 45, cols 353-354 (14 February 1839)
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, HC, “Canada—Martial Law“, vol 45 (1839), cols 353-354.
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Mr. Leader presented a petition from Louis H. La Fontaine and Charles Mondelet, two advocates practising at the bar in Montreal. They stated, that they derived their sole subsistence from the exercise of their profession—that amongst the sacred rights granted them by this country, personal liberty was the one which they most valued—that in consequence of some late acts they were afraid that right was to be altogether taken from them, in consequence of the flagrant abuse of power to which they had been subjected—that they, with several other persons, were forcibly torn from their families on the 4th of November last, by persons calling themselves the agents of Government, and dragged to prison by her Majesty’s troops, without any warrant, without any accusation against them, and, as they believed, with the knowledge or by the orders of Sir John Colborne; they stated further, that it was publicly believed, that a carte blanche had been given to many persons, to denounce as traitors any of her Majesty’s subjects in the colony, thus furnishing to enmity an opportunity of wreaking its revengeful feelings on the liberty of the subject—that having been thus arrested they were detained
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in prison till the 13th December when the gaoler ordered them to go out—that they had written a letter to Sir John Colborne, demanding what was the accusation against them, and demanding to be brought to trial, but that to that letter no answer was returned. They stated, further, that Commissioners had been appointed to examine into this cause; that with their knowledge these two gentlemen had been detained in prison, without any occasion, and this with the knowledge of the Executive. They stated they had no legal resource against this course, as since the execution of the order for their arrest, they found an Act of Indemnity had been passed, which deprived them of the power of bringing the offenders to trial before the ordinary tribunals. They asked for that justice from the Imperial Parliament which they were unable to obtain in their own country. They stated further, that, being sincerely attached to the happiness of their country, they had another duty to fulfil, which was, to denounce to the House the devastation of their country by the troops of her Majesty and by the volunteers. They further denounced, besides, the plundering and devastation which bad taken place, outrages still more revolting, committed by the soldiers and volunteers, on the unoffending females of the country.
An Hon. Member—The hon. Member for Westminster is going beyond the line agreed on in making so long a statement.
Mr. Leader—He was merely reading the prayer of the petition, which he had a right to do. The hon. Gentlemen seemed inclined to gag them, but he should proceed with the petition, which further stated, that the petitioners complained of the suspension of the laws before the proclamation of Martial Law, and also of the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and that the country was under military and despotic rule, of a nature to drive the population of these provinces to despair, and of which the object appeared to be to destroy their institutions and their language, and drive them from their country. They prayed the House to take the petition into their serious consideration, and grant them that redress which was so much needed. He should call the attention of the House to the subject on the 28th of February.