HL Deb 05 May 1870 vol 201 cc251-3

wished to put a Question to his noble Friend (Earl Granville), which he believed would not infringe the understanding that Questions likely to lead to a debate should not be put without Notice—viz., Whether he was in possession of any information as to an arrangement made by the Canadian Government respecting the Red River Insurrection?


said, that the insurrection which broke out at the Red River at the end of last year had been a subject of much consideration to Her Majesty's Government. The Government of the Dominion declined to accept the transfer which it had been agreed upon should be effected in December, on the ground that they could not be called upon to do so when the Settlement, as it appeared, for the moment was in a state of anarchy. They accordingly stopped the payment of the money which was to be given to the Hudson's Bay Company. Her Majesty's Government, although not admitting the justice of the refusal, were convinced that any misunderstanding with the Dominion could only increase the difficulty of the position, and that the only mode of settling it was by a cordial co-operation of the Home Government, the Government of the Dominion, and the Hudson's Bay Company. To abandon that portion of Her Majesty's dominions to a state of anarchy, accompanied by bloodshed and possibly by civil war, almost certainly by the destruction of all trade in the Hudson's Bay territory, would have been dishonourable to the Crown and embarrassing as regards our relations with the United States. To establish a Crown Colony in a district so inaccessible as regards Great Britain would have been obviously unwise. Her Majesty's Government were convinced that the only course to pursue was to obtain the cordial co-operation of the Dominion and of the Hudson's Bay Company for the restoration of order. He was happy to say that this assistance was cordially and effectively given. The Government of the Dominion declared that they had no intention of withdrawing from the agreement into which they had entered, and that they were most desirous of conciliating the inhabitants of the Red River Settlement. But they were of opinion, in any event, that it was absolutely necessary that, at the time of taking possession a military force should be present in order to maintain tranquillity and to prevent possible collisions between the different races and creeds in the Settlement. Her Majesty's Government consented to this proposal—but on three conditions. The first was, that the transfer should be accomplished according to the terms originally agreed on. The second was, that the Government of the Dominion should supply at least two-thirds of the men and of the expenses of the expedition. The third was, that the Dominion should previously come to an amicable understanding, on terms which Her Majesty's Government could approve, with the settlers of the Red River district. The Papers, which would be presented to Parliament, as soon as they were printed, would show the continuous and judicious efforts which have been made by the Government of the Dominion to effect an amicable understanding with the Settlement, and their success ap- pears, from the telegram, which was published this morning, to be complete. In the meanwhile the Government had placed Sir John Young, the Governor General of the North Western Territory, in charge of the district during the time the transfer took place, and he (Earl Granville) had received a telegram from Sir John Young, reporting that on the 10th of March the Convention of the Red River had passed Resolutions asking for the presence of British troops to preserve the peace between different-sections of the community, and that the Government of the United States had remonstrated as to a state of things which affords no security against alleged outrages on the border. The Dominion have already given orders for the payment of the sum agreed upon to the Hudson's Bay Company, and they have agreed to the terms proposed as to the composition and payment of the expedition. Her Majesty's Government have appointed Sir John Young Governor of the Hudson's Bay Territory until the transfer is technically effected, and they have assented to Imperial troops forming a portion of the expedition. It is intended that the Imperial troops shall return before the beginning of the winter. I have received from Sir John Rose this telegram, received by him this afternoon— Sir F. Hincks to Sir J. Rose, Ottawa, May 4. Rupert's Land Bill passing Commons. Concurred in by delegates and Canadian party; in fact, by all in Territory. Expedition will be one of peace. He (Earl Granville) should be sorry to finish this short statement without an acknowledgment of the great assistance Her Majesty's Government had received from the Governor General and his Advisers, from the able representatives of the Dominion in this country, and from the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Ministry of the Dominion seem to him to have acted during this year with singular judgment, decision, and conciliation, and to have been rewarded by the success they appear to have attained.