#List of Rights, revised version of March 1870

Previous List(s): #List(s) of Rights from Convention of Forty


During the first half of March, finishing just prior to the departure of the three delegates to Ottawa, the executive of the provisional government reworked the ‘List of Rights’ developed at the Convention of Forty.[1] According to one account, this list was printed “in both English and French” and “distributed” on 20 March 1870 — presumably to members of the Legislative Assembly.[2]

Each of the delegates was given a list. Probably — though not necessarily — these were much the same in terms of content, and, at least initially, were copies of the revised and printed list.[3] It seems likely that Alfred H. Scott and Judge John Black’s copies were English-language versions of the printed list, while Rev. N.-J. Nöel’s was the French-language version.

Judge Black’s copy was addressed specifically to him and entitled “A list of Terms and Conditions referred to in your Commission and in your letter of Instructions.” It was signed by the Provisional Government of Assiniboia’s Secretary of State, Thomas Bunn.[4]

   1. That the Territories, heretofore known as Rupert’s Land and the North-West, shall not enter into the Confederation of the Dominion of Canada, except as a Province, to be styled and known as the Province of Assiniboia, and with all the rights and privileges common with all the different Provinces of the Dominion.

   2. That we have two Representatives in the Senate, and four in the House of Commons of Canada, until such time as an increase of population enetitle the Province to a greater representation.

   3. That the Province of Assiniboia shall not be held liable, at any time, for any portion of the public debt contracted before the date the said Province shall have entered the Confederation, unless the said Province shall have first received from the Dominion the full amount for which the said Province is to be held liable.

   4. That the sum of eighty thousand dollars ($80,000) be paid annually by the Dominion Government to the Local Legislature of this Province.

   5. That all properties, rights, and privileges enjoyed by the people of this Province, up to the date of our entering into the Confederation, be respected, and that the arrangement and confirmation of all customs, usages, and privileges be left exclusively to the Local Legislature.

   6. That during the term of five years, the Province of Assiniboia shall not be subjected to any direct taxation except such as may be imposed by the Local Legislature for municipal or other local purposes.

   7. That a sum of money equal to eighty cents per head of the population of this Province be paid by the Canadian Government to the Local Legislature of the said Province, until such time as the said population shall have increased to six hundred thousand (600,000).

   8. That the Local Legislature shall have the right to determine the qualifications of members to represent this Province in the Parliament of Canada, and the Local Legislature.

   9. That, in this Province, with the exception of uncivilised and unsettled Indians, every male native citizen who has attained the age of twenty-one years, and every foreigner, being a British subject, who has attained the same age, and has resided three years in the Province, and is a house-holder; and every foreigner other than a British subject who has resided here during the same period, being a householder, and having taken the oath of allegiance, shall be entitled to vote at the elections of members for the Local Legislature and for the Canadian Parliament. It being understood that this Article be subject to amendment exclusively by the Local Legislature.

   10. That the bargain of the Hudson’s Bay Company with respect to the transfer of the Government of this country to the Dominion of Canada be annulled, so far as it interferes with the rights of the people of Assiniboia, and so far as it would affect our future relations with Canada.

   11. That the Local Legislature of the Province of Assiniboia shall have full control over all the public  lands of the Province, and the right to amend all acts or arrangements made or entered into with reference to the public lands of Rupert’s Land and the North-West, now called the Province of Assiniboia.

   12. That the Government of Canada appoint a Commission of Engineers to explore the various districts of the North-West Province of Assiniboia, and to lay before the Local Legislature a report of the mineral wealth of the Province within five years from the date of our entering into Confederation.

   13. That treaties be concluded between Canada and the different Indian tribes of the Province of Assiniboia, by and with the advice and co-operation of the Local Legislature of this Province.

   14. That an uninterrupted steam communication from Lake Superior to Fort Garry be guaranteed to be completed within the space of five years.

   15. That all public buildings, bridges, roads, and other public works be at the cost of the Dominion Treasury.

   16. That the English and French languages be common in the Legislature and in the Courts, and that all public documents, as well as all acts of the Legislature, be published in both languages.

   17. That whearas the French and English speaking people of Assiniboia are so equallt divided as to number, yet so united in their interests and so connected by commerce, family connections, and other political and social relations, that it has happily been found impossible to bring them into hostile collision, although repeated attempts have been made by designing strangers, for reasons known to themselves, to bring about so ruinous and disastrous an event.

And whearas after all the troubles and apparent dissensions of the past, the result of misunderstanding among themselves, they have, as soon as the evil agencies referred to above were removed, become as united and friendly as ever.

Therefore as a means to strengthen this union and friendly feeling among all classes we deem it expedient and advisable —

That the Lieutenant-Governor who may be appointed for the Province of Assiniboia should be familiar with both the French and English 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 Winipeg [sic] and Lake Superior.

This list underwent further revision.


Next List: #List of Rights, Tabled before the Assembly [c. 7 May]


[1] The wording of the text indicates the name ‘Assiniboia’ had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly — which occurred during Session 1, Day 4: 18 March. See also A.-A. Taché, Separate Schools: Part of the Negoiations at Ottawa, 1870 (St. Boniface: 1900?), 1.

[2] Edmund A. Aunger, “Justifying the End of Official Bilingualism: Canada’s North-West Assembly and the Dual-Language Question, 1889-1892,” Canadian Journal of Political Science/ Revue canadienne de science politique 34, no. 3 (September 2001), 460.

[3] It is possible that the instructions and lists given to each delegate reflected a different negotiation strategy, or set of issues for each to focus on — given that, in comparison with one another, each delegate appears broadly representative of distinct interest groups within the Red River population. As noted by Jeanne M. Brett, Ray Friedman, and Kristin Behfar, “How to Manage Your Negotiating Team,” Harvard Business Review (September 2009), “Even though team members are all technically on the same side, they often have different priorities and imagine different ideal outcomes.”

[4] The list was printed in Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons, “Correspondence Relative to the Recent Disturbances in the Red River Settlement,” Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons, session 8 February -10 August 1870, vol. 50, Colonies and British Possessions continued vol. 10 (London: William Clowes and Sons, 1870), 130. George Bryce, “Two Provisional Governments  in Manitoba, Containing an Interesting Discussion of the Riel Rebellion, With an Appendix Embodying the Four Bills of Rights Verbatim,” Manitoba Historical Society Transactions ser. 1, no. 38 (read 9 January 1890), asserts that this list is a “verbatim official copy” that “accompanied the commission to Rev. Father Ritchot, J. Black Esq., Alfred Scotl [sic: Scott], Esq.” to Ottawa and was “given by the Provisional Government.” His assertion is based on the supposition that the ‘scraps of the past’ in his possession must be the only pieces of paper ever generated by the provisional government during March (not to mention that these papers must in fact have been generated by that government), and can be read as unproblematic historical evidence that ‘proves’: exactly what was taken to Ottawa; and whether “A Great Marvel” of perfidy, to do with list-substitution, occurred. See A.-A. Taché, Separate Schools: Part of the Negotiations at Ottawa, 1870 (St. Boniface: 1900?).


Published 14 September 2014


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