The Courthouse, Upper Fort Garry, Convention of Wednesday, November 24, 1869
Before entering the session:
[Mr. Riel reports] We French have passed the night in council. I have spoken during a whole seven hours to bring the National Committee to form itself into a Provisional Government. Not one was ready. What fears and hesitations there were to overcome. It is incredible what misgivings I had to overcome in them. That which they feared the most was the appearance of rebellion against the Queen. It is only by force of demonstrating to them and saying to them that we remain faithful to the Queen; that the government of Assiniboia in selling itself has so weakened itself that it no longer had the strength necessary to protect us; that if there remained in it still anything of the nature of a government, it is only the name. That it concerns itself so little with us that in spite of the outcries and all that we had done to repel McDougall, if the Government of Assiniboia made contact with McDougall, it would put us willy nilly into his hands. That if the Queen knew what we wanted, she would listen to us. That she knows perhaps already and that she is willing to listen to us without a doubt. The moreover McDougall is preparing to complete all his arrangements with the Council of Assiniboia for the first of December. That on his (McDougall’s) declaring himself governor on that day, the government of Assiniboia is finished. It has therefore only a few days to run in a state of perfect incapacity. That since McDougall does not wish to speak to us, as our letter of October 21 told him he could address us, in order to have permission to enter the country, let us not allow him to become governor before the matter is settled with us in the name of Canada. If he declares himself governor on December 1, he will be no more governor than before. Assiniboia will be dead, let us form a Provisional Government beforehand. Let us speak about it to-morrow to the English representatives. Let us seize the public accounts, the public funds in order to force McDougall to deal with a public body. Those books and that public money also belong to the public. McDougall must not take possession of them in spite of us. The members of the Committee consent at last, and I advise them that to run less risk, we shall proclaim the formation of the Provisional only after December 1. That it was Schultz and the Canadian disturbers of the peace who … (?) [sic: ellipses and question mark are W.L. Morton’s] as much as the incapacity of the Council of Assiniboia [italics: W.L. Morton’s emphasis] compelled us together with the conduct of McDougall to take extreme measures which would recoil upon them.
The Convention meets.
The English ask the French what their plans are.
Mr. Riel asks the English if it is really their desire to unite with the French to overcome present difficulties.
The English [make] an evasive reply.
Mr. Riel answers them by saying: You will know indeed what we want, on our side. We want what all the French parishes want. And they want to form a provisional government for out protection and to treat with Canada. We invite you to join with us sincerely. That government will be composed equally of French and English. It will be only Provisional.
The English say that they must consult with their respective parishes. That their instructions do not authorize them to take such action.
Adjournment until December 1, 1869.