The issue of what form of government the people of Assiniboia would have after confederation with Canada was fundamental to the Resistance of 1869–1870.

To portray the Resistance as a ‘racial’/ ethnic/ cultural/ ‘civilized vs. savage’/ ‘agrarian vs. hunter’ event is to miss its political dimension and ignore the chronology of political history in Canada. The debates of Assiniboia councils, conventions, and the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, along with public pronouncements in the press at Red River, clearly show that the Resistance was a political event.

The people of Red River did what they could to ensure that they would have representative and responsible government. The issue was addressed during the Convention of Forty, while debating whether, in agreeing to confederate with Canada, they ought to demand that elected representatives have the power to override the veto of a Governor. Judge John Black pointed out:

This is, I believe, a great era in the history of this country [Assiniboia]; … What is the position in which we now stand? That of deriving at once the benefits of responsible government for the country — a boon obtained in other countries only after years — I may say generations — of toil and trouble … And, considering the conflict into which other peoples have been called upon to enter before they obtained … responsible government,— ought we not to be very careful how we risk our prospects?

The members of the Convention of Forty responded to Black’s observations with cheers.[i]

Related Media

Hon. Thomas Bunn, St. Clements, 1870

List of Rights to Canada

[i] See “Convention at Fort Garry,” New Nation (4 February 1870), http://manitobia.ca/content/en/newspapers/NNT/1870/02/04/2/Ar00201.html/Olive.