UK, House of Commons, “Canada”, vol 45, cols 919-920 (27 February 1839)

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Date: 1839-02-27
By: UK (House of Commons)
Citation: UK, HC, “Canada“, vol 45 (1839), cols 919-920.
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Sir R. Peel wished to ask the noble Lord what course he proposed to pursue with respect to the bill, for the future government of the Canadas. He had understood the noble Lord to say he would introduce the bill before Easter, but would postpone the second reading till after Easter. He wished to know whether the noble Lord intended to fix the second reading for an early day after Easter, or whether, he intended to communicate with the government of Canada before proposing the second reading.

Lord John Russell had certainly stated it was his wish to introduce the bill before Easter, and still hoped he might be enabled to do so, though at this moment he could not say confidently that the bill could be introduced before Easter. It was not intended to propose the second reading immediately after Easter; nor was it proposed to allow sufficient time to elapse for communication with Canada. The second reading would not come on for at least three weeks after Easter.

Sir Robert PeelDoes the noble Lord contemplate actual legislation on the subject of the government of the two provinces?

Mr. O’Connell, seeing the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies in his place, wished to know whether any steps were intended to be taken to stop the effusion of blood in Canada. The insurrection had been put an end to, but the effusion of blood continued.

Mr. Labouchere considered that the language of the hon. and learned Member was rather disproportioned to the real facts

  • (col. 920)

of the case. The moment that he had entered upon the duties of the office which he had now the honour to fill, he had taken the first opportunity of inquiring concerning the number of persons who had suffered capital punishment, and he had been informed that the great effusion of blood to which the hon. and learned Member had referred comprised sixteen persons, who had been executed in Upper Canada, and seven in Lower Canada, four of whom had been convicted of a most atrocious murder. He felt bound to make this statement, because he thought it was extremely improper that the assertion, that blood had flowed to great extent in those colonies, should go forth to the world without explanation. In making that statement, he begged it to be understood that he entertained feelings of the deepest regret that it should have been considered necessary that a single human being should have suffered capital punishment; but after what bad been stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman he could not refrain from stating the facts. He begged also to state that the Government had not the slightest reason to think, that the discretion which had been given to Sir John Colborne had been exercised without a due regard to humanity.

Mr. O’Connell considered that he had a right to say, that an effusion of blood had taken place. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the death of sixteen persons by the hands of the law was not an effusion of blood. Now he was of opinion, that the putting to death one person more than was absolutely necessary was an effusion of blood.

Subject dropped.

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