Session 2, Day 7: 3 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 6: 2 May

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Assembly Chamber, Upper Fort Garry

Tuesday, 3 May 1870[1]

The President took the chair at half-past one P.M. and addressed the House as follows:—

Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly — It may be out of the regular run of business to allude to a matter which is foreign to it, but I would say a word on a subject which interests us. I would say — as I said a few minutes ago, privately, in reference to the news received by last mail — now we are recognized abroad — recognized because we have taken a bold stand among the nations. Even if we are a community small in number, out attitude has been that of honest, determined, straightforward men. We certainly have some right to complain of injustice at the hands of some parties in Canada — parties who are now crying out against us. But our answer is, that we have as much confidence in the British flag as they have themselves (cheers). We have only to continue as we have begun. They cannot disturb us (cheers). The President, in alluding to the business before the House, suggested that it might be well to take up the consideration of the Liquor Laws at once, and dispose of them, as it was important to have them passed as soon as possible.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue moved that the Law Committee report be taken up, but that the House should for the present, postpone the consideration of the Articles immediately following those last discussed and take up the Liquor Laws.

Hon. Mr. De Lorme seconded the motion.

The motion was opposed by Hon. Messrs. Bunn, Bird and others, on the ground that no sufficient reason had [been] assigned for the proposed departure from the ordinary course of procedure.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue explained at length that unlicensed dealers were taking advantage of the present state of things and not only unfairly competing with those who had paid for their licenses, but also doing a great deal of mischief, particularly among Indians. It was very desirable that as strong a check as possible should be placed on such offenders. Again, all the old laws on this subject had never been published by the Governor and Council of Assiniboia. Many did not know what these laws were; had no opportunity of becoming acquainted with them; and could not, therefore, be held liable for breaking them. There were, besides, special cases showing the urgent need of enacting these laws immediately, but [he] had a delicacy in further alluding to these cases.

After debate,

Hon. Mr. Bunn, seconded by Hon. Dr. Bird, moved in amendment that the report be taken up, consecutively — The amendment was lost on a division:— Yeas 7; nays 11, and the original motion carried.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue then moved that it be resolved —

“That all licenses granted on the first day of December 1869 be considered as null and void after the twenty-fifth day of May next ensuing; that applications for licenses in these special cases shall have to be made on the twentieth day of May next; and that licenses shall be granted on the first week day in June 1870 — the conditions under Article V of the local laws to be complied with, except so far as herein mentioned.”

The hon. gentleman explained his reason for the motion to be this — Last December when the country was in a disturbed state, licenses were applied for, under the old government. The law under that government provided that in the event of a certain number of persons living in the immediate vicinity of the applicant for a license, objecting to his getting one, it should not be issued to him. At the time I refer to, continued the hon. gentleman, affairs were in such a disturbed state that people did not expect that any licenses would be given, but they were given, and in some cases the parties obtaining them had caused considerable annoyance since by the manner in which their houses had been kept. The Provisional Government, it will be remembered, was in being on the 24th November, and hence these liquor licenses were issued under I do not really know what Government. On the day of their issue, some parties supposed themselves still under the old regime; the Provisional Government was a power in the land, and, still further to complicate the situation, McDougall had issued his proclamation declaring the country part of Canada. Hence I would say, let these licenses be recalled on the 25th inst., and re-issued, by the present Government wherever the law in such cases is complied with. In the law we are going to pass, it is provided that licenses should issue on the 1st of December, but in these special cases we could provide for their issue on the first of June.

Hon. Mr. Bunn — Were not the licenses issued on the 1st December last year granted for the first time or second — all granted for one year, and supposed to be good till December 1st next convening?

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne — Of course.

Hon. Mr. Bunn — In that case I do not see how we can fairly interfere with these licenses, except, perhaps, to recall them and reissue under the present Government. We could not, in good faith, refuse to carry out the contract already entered into on the part of the Government with those people.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — In cases where the license was not renewed half of the amount paid for such license might be returned. There is no wish to act unjustly in the matter. But if the people of any locality think that under the circumstances I have described — which prevented them from making objection at the time — a license issued is injurious to them — I think they should now be enabled to make such objection. The result will be that if the license is not granted on the first of June, it will be because there are good reasons for withholding it — reasons which would have prevented the issue in the first instance, but for the exceptional state of things then prevailing.

Hon. Mr. Bunn — This very question of licenses has puzzled almost every government in the civilised world, and as we are but a young community we must be cautious in our actions. I do not know that in the event of withholding any of the licenses recalled, paying back half the license fee would in all cases be sufficient recompense. We do not know how much expense the holder of the license may have gone to, in preparing to open his premises. Besides I object altogether to the way in which this motion was brought down. We agreed to take up the liquor laws as reported, and now we are asked to take up something else.

The President suggested that it might save endless discussion if hon. gentlemen opposing a motion would briefly explain their views and then move an amendment. The desire of all, he believed, was to stop abuses in the liquor traffic, or prevent them arising. There was no desire to take money from any wrongly.

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne — I agree with Hon. Mr. Bunn that certain parties entered into a contract with me on behalf of the Governor and Council of Assiniboia and took out their licenses, after having given full and ample notice to the public of their application. I am certain that such public notice was given by every man getting a license from me. On the 1st of December I granted licenses for a year, and in justice to all parties I would object to the contract with any of them being broken. I would move in amendment — that all licenses taken out under the Governor and Council of Assiniboia, on the 1st day of December 1869, be now repealed and renewed by the President and Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, under the restrictions mentioned in the former Licenses.

Hon. Mr. Bunn seconded the amendment.

Hon. Dr. Bird objected to the time at which the motion was brought forward. The House had agreed to go into committee on the liquor laws, and hence the motion as moved by Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue was out of order. The hon. gentleman then strongly endorsed the view taken by Hon. Mr. Bunn that it would be a gross injustice to break faith with any who had taken out licenses by depriving them of selling before their year was up.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue contended that though his proposal might cause annoyance and possibly a little loss to some who had taken out licenses, it was, for all that, made in the public interest — and where public and private interest come into collision the latter must give way. He thought that in returning the half year’s license fee where licenses were not renewed, they were acting fairly — as the amount thus refunded would in all probability cover the loss, and perhaps more.

After [this] debate,

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne obtained leave to substitute the words “made legal” for the word “repealed” in his amendment, which was then put and carried as amended, with the understanding that the names of all holding licenses in the several districts should be published along with the notices.

Article I under the head “Liquor Laws” was moved by Hon. Mr. Bannatyne, seconded by Hon. Mr. Poitras, with the addition of the following clause at the end of the Article:—

“In every case where a person is found guilty of a breach of this law a second time the fine shall be doubled.” — Carried.

On motion of Hon. Mr. Hay, seconded by Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue, the fine in sub-section 4 was increased from Ten Pounds sterling to One Hundred Pounds sterling.

The President — It would not be well for any offender to have that fine doubled (laughter).

Hon. Mr. Hay — To show that the punishment is not excessive, I may mention that in the neighboring States the fine is $3,000 and imprisonment for three years for selling liquor to Indians.

The Article, with both amendments, was put and carried on a division — Yeas 16; nays 1.

Article II carried on motion by Hon. Mr. Poitras seconded by Hon. Mr. Bannatyne.

Article III carried on motion by Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue seconded by Hon. Mr. Bannatyne.

Article IV was as follows:—

“If any person be found with any of the above specified means of intoxication among Indians, he shall be held guilty of furnishing such means of intoxication to them.

Hon. Mr. Tait, seconded by Hon. Dr. Bird, moved that this Article be struck out. In seconding the motion Hon. Dr. Bird said — In the case of a person travelling through the country it is generally thought necessary to take a little spirits of some kind. In the event of that person travelling with Indians he would be liable under this law. Would that be fair?

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — That case might be embraced by the proviso “except said person can give proof that such liquor is for his own special use.”

Hon. Mr. Bannatyne — Then suppose I send a man to the Saskatchewan with carts or boats, in which I send liquor to some parties there, not Indians, unless I could swear that liquor was for my own special use,— and of course it would not be in such a case — I might be found guilty of a breach of the law.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue — Liquor in transit for civilized people might also excepted.

Hon. Mr. Tait strongly objected to the article and amendments. He failed to see the justice of making it an offence to be found with liquor among Indians, as long as the party so found, or his agents did not supply the Indians with this liquor.

Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bruce, moved the adoption of the article with the addition of the following clause after the word “them”:

“Unless he shall prove that such liquor is for his own use, or for the use of such civilised person or persons as may be with him, or that it is in transit for any civilised person. Any violation of this Article may be punished in the manner set forth in Article I, sub-section 4.”

Article carried as amended.

Article V being a very long one, on motion of Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue, seconded by Hon. Mr. Bunn, the House resolved itself into committee of the whole to consider the same, and the balance of the Liquor Laws.

Hon. Mr. Bunn was called to the chair.

On motion of Hon. Mr. Tait, seconded by Hon. Mr. Garrioch, the Article was considered paragraph by paragraph.

The first paragraph was put as follows —

“V. Excepting as regards the sale of spirits, wine and beer, there shall hereafter be but one description of Liquor License, which shall be issuable only once a year, as hereinafter mentioned; and such license shall give the holder permission to manufacture spirits, wine, or beer, and sell the same in any quantity, under the restrictions contained in the following schedule, showing the form in which the license shall be granted:”

Hon. Mr. Tait — What is meant by “excepting as regards the sale of spirits, wine and beer?”

The Chairman explained that it was a mistake in copying the report. After the word “beer” in the original article were the words “by importers and wholesale dealers.”

Hon. Dr. Bird said — I do not think distillers ought to be included in the same license as retailers. A distiller ought to be able to get a license whenever he is able to commence working his distillery, without, however, being able to retail unless he paid ten pounds more in license-fee. I do not, in fact, think there ought to be any restriction on a distiller unless the payment of the necessary fee. I would move in amendment that the first paragraph be struck out and the following inserted instead:—

“No person shall sell spirits, wine, or beer, in any quantity under five gallons without obtaining a license as contained in the following schedule:” the schedule I wish to amend by striking out the word “manufacture” in the fourth line, and also the words “and to sell the same” in the following line,—

On the same motion, seconded by Hon. Mr. Tait, paragraph and schedule carried as amended.

On motion of Hon. Mr. O’Donoghue, seconded by Hon. Dr. Bird, the word “twenty” was substituted for the word “five” in the eight line of the third following paragraph, and the word “thirty” for the word “ten” in the same line; also by substituting the word “twelve” for the word “five” in the twelfth line, and the word “twenty” for the word “ten” in the line following. This made the punishment for manufacturing or selling spirits, wine, or beer without license (except in the case of a person making wine or beer for his own family use), a fine of not less than twenty pounds sterling and not more than thirty pounds sterling, and in default of immediate payment the offender to be liable to imprisonment for not less than twelve weeks and not more than twenty weeks.

This and the following paragraph were carried as amended.

Committee rose, reported progress and obtained leave to sit again to-morrow.

The house adjourned at half-past seven P.M.

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Next page: Session 2, Day 8: 4 May


[1] Bunn, Sessional Journal, 28–31; “Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia. Second Session,” New Nation (13 May 1870), 1–2.

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Published 7 July 2011

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