Session 2, Day 12: 9 May

NB: text taken from Archives of Manitoba, MG3 A1-15, Red River Disturbance collection, “Seasonal [sic: Sessional] Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, March 1870,” appears in black; text taken from other sources appears in grey.

Previous page: Session 2, Day 11: 7 May

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Assembly Chamber, Upper Fort Garry

Monday, 9 May 1870[1]

The President took the chair at half-past three o’clock P.M.

Routine business having been transacted,

The President addressed the Assembly, making the following allusion to the question of creating a Senate. It was neither proposed nor attempted, he said, to force the consideration of that question on the Assembly. Such a course would only make the Executive — what we do not desire it to be — sole master. The question came before the House as a suggestion from the Executive, and, by a resolution of certain hon. members, the question now comes up for the decision of the House in one way or another; and I have no doubt when you have taken the matter into consideration, carefully, conscientiously, and with good feeling, that the decision arrived at will be for the best,— whether for, or against. Another question to which I would like to direct the attention of members of the Assembly is that of roads and bridges and the necessary appropriations therefore.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — I would wish to state that some of the superintendents of roads last year have applied to me for payment. Also that there is a balance of money due to other officials, whose accounts have been made up in the books of the Governor and Council, to December first. I would like to be instructed what to do in these cases.

Hon. Mr. T. Sinclair moved that all public officials be paid the full amount due by the Governor and Council of Assiniboia — No seconder.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — Up to what date? As far as the road superintendents are concerned, if anything was done after the first of November, they must of course testify to the accuracy of their accounts in that respect. Money expended in this way for the public benefit must, of course, be paid. As to the other public officials, their accounts are made up to December first. As Hon. Mr. Sinclair’s motion is not seconded, I would move — That, so far as Magistrates, Constables, and Collectors of Customs are concerned, they be paid up to the time the books were closed by the Governor and Council of Assiniboia, on the first of December, and that no officials be paid after that period except such as have been in the public service all the time, such as post masters; and that whatever amount the road superintendents may have paid out of their own pockets in the public interest, shall, if still due them, be paid by the public. My reason for mentioning December first is that the half year ended at that date, and all the public officials I have spoken to, seemed to be satisfied with getting paid up to that time.

Hon. Mr. Bunn seconded Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue’s motion.

Hon. Mr. McKay agreed with Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue that if the public officials were paid up to December first they ought to be satisfied. He (McKay) thought it only right, and supposed that soon the Government would be sending round to collect last year’s import duties.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne — Is it clear that we have the right to collect import duties on goods brought in long before December first? The old Government, it seems to me, ought to settle its accounts; and all we have to do is to legislate from December first.

Hon. Mr. Bunn — It does not signify very much with reference to the public interest, what Government does the business for the public. This money is due the public and the fact of a previous Government not collecting it, forms no reason why we should not do so.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — I do not think that Hon. Mr. Bannatyne’s proposition would prove very acceptable to the public. Of last year’s duty a very small amount indeed found its way into the public exchequer. Somewhere about £3,500 still remain to be collected. The public are therefore so much the poorer and the importers so much the richer.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne — My argument was used rather to assist Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue and Hon. Mr. Bunn. I think the money still due ought to be collected. But if we collect money up to the first of June for imports that took place before this Government was in being, will not the public officials have a right to demand payment up to first June? They will say that if they did not work, it is because they were not called on.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — If a man contracts for work and does not do it, he has no right to be paid. Since the first December no officer of the old Government has exercised any authority except the Postmaster. There has been no civil law in force since that period. All the work of the public officials did not, perhaps, extend farther than the first November, but we allow them payment up to first December, and wish that they express themselves satisfied.

Hon. Mr. Schmidt argued that it was not correct to ask for payment for work which had not been done. Up to first December he was willing to see the public officials paid.

The President — We will be glad to abide by the decision of the House in this matter. But hon. gentlemen need not be led away with the idea that the Provisional Government are in duty bound to pay the salaries proposed. It is not a matter of duty at all.

After [this] debate,

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue’s motion was put and carried.

On motion of Hon. Mr. Bunn, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bannatyne, the House resolved itself into committee of the whole to take into consideration the appropriation of a certain sum of money for the public roads.— Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue in the chair.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne then moved that the sum of £400 sterling be appropriated for roads and bridges in the following districts:—

“From Pembina to Fort Garry £100; from Portage la Prairie to Fort Garry £100; from Fort Garry to the end of St. Andrew’s district, on the west side of the river, £100; from Fort Garry downwards on the east side of the river to the end of the district £50 sterling; from Fort Garry to Oak Point £50 sterling.”

Hon. Mr. DeLorme said it was necessary to have a bridge at Scratching River.[2] A small one might be built which would not cost more than twelve or fifteen pounds sterling and as for the bridge at Riviere Sale, which had cost so much, not a vestige of it was left. A larger appropriation was necessary,— say twenty-five pounds sterling more.

Hon. Mr. Schmidt moved in amendment that the sum of fifty pounds sterling more be appropriated for the road between Pembina and Fort Garry. This was a road used a good deal by all the settlers and many bridges on it had been swept away.

Hon. Mr. Lascerte seconded the amendment.

The Chairman urged an extra appropriation for this road, as it was one a great deal used by all the settlers and one or two of the bridges had broken down.

Hon. Mr. Hay had nothing to urge against further appropriation for the road above, but if anything like full appropriations were to be asked for, the road below would need an extra appropriation as it was in very bad order. It had nearly twenty bridges, some of which were entirely down, and not one was fit to travel over.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne — For twenty years past they have had a bridge over the Riviere Sale, which cost fifty pounds sterling, but now it is swept away. A bridge of any use can hardly be made over that river,— perhaps a scow would be an improvement.

Hon. Mr. DeLorme strongly objected to putting a scow on the river. An ordinary, small bridge, which would not cost much, would suffice, and prove less costly and more serviceable than a scow. In seasons when the river was very low, the latter would be entirely worthless.

At the suggestion of hon. members and by consent of the House, Hon. Mr. Bannatyne amended his motion by making the appropriation from Pembina to Fort Garry £125, and explained that the appropriation now asked for was not a final one, but merely for the present session.

Some hon. gentlemen having spoken of the absurdity of endeavoring to keep in good repair the road and bridges beyond Scratching River and urged that the Minister of Public Works could not possibly be held accountable for accidents resulting from the want of repairs in a quarter outside the travelled roads in the Settlement,

Hon. Mr. Schmidt urged that the Riviere aux Marais, near Pembina was in the Fort Garry district, and as such any bridging or repairs there ought to come within the sphere of labor assigned to the Commissioner of Public Works.

Hon. Mr. Bunn objected and held that it would be unfair to make the Commissioner of Public Works responsible for the condition of roads so far off.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne asked to be allowed further to alter his motion by substituting the words “Scratching River” for “Pembina.” This made the first-mentioned road extend from and inclusive of Scratching River to Fort Garry.

The Chairman suggested that perhaps the best way would be to appropriate the one hundred and twenty-five pounds sterling for the road from Scratching River and the fifty pounds sterling for the Oak Point and Point Coupee roads — to be expended where the Minister of Public Works found it to be most needed.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne adopted the suggestion whereupon Hon. Mr. Schmidt withdrew his amendment.

At the suggestion of Hon. Mr. McKay the motion was further altered by the appropriation of twenty-five pounds sterling more for the Point Coupee and Oak Point districts, across the river.

Amendment carried.

The motion as amended was then put and carried in the following shape:—

“That the sum of £450 sterling be appropriated for roads and bridges in the following districts:

From Scratching River to Fort Garry £125 sterling.

From Portage la Prairie to Fort Garry £100 sterling.

From Fort Garry on the west side of the Red River down to the end of the Lower District £100 sterling.

From the Company’s store downwards, on the east side, to the end of the district £50 sterling.

From the Company’s store upwards to Oak Point and Pointe Coupee £75 sterling.”

The Committee rose and reported the adoption of the resolution as amended, and the report was received and concurred in.

In answer to Mr. Beauchemin, Hon. Mr. Bannatyne explained that the appropriation for the Assiniboine River district included both sides of the river.

Hon. Mr. Poitras contended that in that case the appropriation was far too little.

The President explained that the appropriation was merely for the present session.

The report was then adopted, and the President signified his intention of appropriating the amount.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue desired to know what salary was to be paid Magistrates and Constables and when it was to reckon from. Last session a bill passed providing that the salaries of all public officials should remain the same until altered by the Legislature. Martial law, they were aware, had been proclaimed last December, and it was only since last Friday the country came under civil law, as the President had announced.[3]

It was ultimately agreed that these and other matters which were mentioned should be left to be settled by the Executive.

The Senate question then came up.

Hon. Mr. Touron, seconded by Hon. Mr. Hay, then moved — that further consideration of the Question regarding a Senate be postponed till next session — Carried.

The President then closed the session, and intimated that in the event of anything official coming from the Commissioners in Canada, he might call a special session of the Legislature.

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Next page: Session 3, Day 1: 23 June


[1] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 47–50; “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, Second Session,” New Nation (27 May 1870), 1.

[2] Later known as the Morris River.

[3] O’Donoghue’s reference to the repeal of the “old laws” and institution of the new civil law raises an interesting point. Begg, Begg’s Red River Journal, 72 n. 1, 80, 369 and n.2, 465 n.2, reports on this date: “The Country now is free from martial law and the laws are to be printed on Wednesday in book form and distributed.” Editor W.L. Morton notes “The existence of martial law, never formally [or expressly] proclaimed, from December 8 to May 9, has, of course, an important bearing on the shooting of Thomas Scott.” “The Winnipeg Revolution, Speech of Hon. Ramsey in the United States Senate,” New Nation (4 March 1870), 1, however, asserts that “Martial law was declared” shortly after 2 November 1869, on the formation of a provisional government under John Bruce as president. “Proclamation, To the People of the North-West,” and “Proclamation Aux Peuples du Nord-Ouest,” New Nation (15 April 1870), 2, suggest the state of martial law was expressly lifted as of 9 April 1870.

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Published 7 July 2011

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