TOPICS OF THE WEEK - 21 JANUARY 1886

MR. BLAKE'S indictment of the Government in the North-West Rebellion is a strong one. If the grievances, being known to exist, had been removed in 1884, Riel's power would not have grown to such a height, and no rebellion would have taken place. The rebellion was a direct outcome of the incapacity, jobbery, and corruption that reigns universal in the affairs of the North-West--perhaps unavoidably incident to the establishment of a wealthy corporation so closely connected with the Government, and to the patronage the opening of half a continent throws into government hands. Mr. Blake held a brief for the country at the last session of Parliament, and he did his duty; but he could do little more than lodge his plea. It was too late for discussion, because the House was wearied by the protracted session, and unfit to cope with the subject; it was also too early, because no one was well-informed on the subject. It is now for him, with fuller information, to bring his plaint again before the House; and this should be the main business of the coming session. A rebellion against real or fancied injustice has taken place in a part of Canada altogether under the government of Conservative appointees; and whether the charges brought against some of these be true or not, it is impossible for the country in the circumstances to close the page and say it will read no further. The fullest investigation into every circumstance preceding and attending the rebellion must be had before the Conservative Party will be purged of the suspicion that now attaches to it; and if this be not accorded promptly and frankly, so much the worse in the long run for the Conservative Party. It is useless for the party press to attempt to raise a false issue through the Riel agitation. The question before the country is not at all the execution of Riel, but the causes that produced the rebellion he headed. The Riel case will have, indeed, to be discussed by Parliament, because, as Mr. Blake puts it, his charges of mismanagement against the Government have been declared by the Government to be a defence of the prisoner. They have rested their defence on his condemnation. And perhaps if they had pardoned him it might have been taken as a confession of their own culpability. Therefore it is most desirable that by the fullest investigation the country may be convinced that the Government have not been guilty of the baseness of punishing Riel to screen themselves. Mr. Blake while deprecating, generally, criticism of the exercise or non-exercise of the prerogative of mercy, yet holds the Riel case to be one for Parliamentary enquiry, for the reason that the trial was for an extraordinary political offence, on which agitation has supervened, and because some prominent supporters of the Government declare they have been misled and deceived by the Government, charging that the execution was to punish an old offence, and to gratify the hate of another set of government supporters. Alleging that the Government have identified their own acquittal with the conviction of the insurgents, he maintains that both may be guilty: the Government for neglect, delay, and mismanagement; the insurgents for rising in rebellion and inciting the Indians to rise. To each, therefore, ought to be assigned their due share of fault: that of the insurgents is known, and it is a fit subject of Parliamentary enquiry to ascertain what extent of


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