Of the competency of the court, which had been affirmed by the full court in Manitoba, the Government saw no reason to entertain doubt; but having regard to the exceptional character of the case, the usual course was departed from in the prisonerís favour, and a respite was granted, to enable him to apply to the ultimate tribunal in England, and thus to take advantage to the very utmost of every right which the law could afford to him.
The fairness of the trial has not been disputed by the prisoner's counsel, nor challenged either before the Court of Appeal in Manitoba, or the Privy Council. It has, on the contrary, been admitted, not tacitly alone by this omission, but expressly and publicly. It may be well, however, to state shortly the facts, which show how the duty which the Government fully acknowledged both to the public and the prisoner has been fulfilled.
It was most desirable not only to ensure the impartial conduct of the trial, which would have been done by the appointment of any barrister of known standing, but to satisfy the public that this had been effected; and in view of this the prosecution was entrusted to two leading counsel in Ontario, known to be in sympathy with different political parties. With them was associated a French advocate of standing and ability in Quebec, and the personal presence and assistance of the Deputy Minister of Justice was given to them throughout the proceedings.
The procedure adopted and the course taken at the trial, to be now shortly stated, as it appears on the record, will show that every opportunity for the fullest defence was afforded; and it is needless to add, what is well known and recognised, that the prisoner was represented by counsel whose zeal and ability have made it impossible to suggest that his defence could in any hands have been more carefully or more ably conducted.
The charge was made against the prisoner on the 6th of July, 1885, and the trial was then fixed to take place on the 20th of that month, of which the prisoner was duly notified.
On the same day a copy of the charge, with a list of the jurors to be summoned and of the witnesses to be called, was duly served upon him, the Crown waiving the question whether this was a right which could be claimed, and desiring, as far as possible, to afford every privilege which, under any circumstances or before any tribunal, he could obtain, and which, consistently with the procedure otherwise prescribed in the Territory, could be granted to him.
On the day named the prisoner, having been arraigned, put in a plea to the jurisdiction, to which the Crown at once demurred, and this question was then argued at length. The grounds taken by the prisoner's counsel had been in effect decided unfavorably to their contention by the Court of Queen's Bench in Manitoba in a recent case, and the presiding judge held that it was therefore impossible for him to give effect to them.
This decision having been announced, the prisoner, by his counsel, then demurred to the information, which was alleged to be insufficient in form, and this demurrer having been argued, was also overruled.
The prisoner then pleaded not guilty, and his counsel applied for an adjournment until the next day, to enable them to prepare affidavits on which to apply for a further postponement of the trial; and, the Crown not objecting, the court adjourned.
On the following day, July the 21st, the prisoner's counsel read affidavits to the effect that certain witnesses not then present were necessary for the defence, and that medical experts on the question of insanity were required by them from the Province of Quebec and from Toronto. They represented that the prisoner had not had means to procure the attendance of these witnesses, and desired an adjournment for a month, during which they would be able to obtain it.
In answer to this application, of which the Crown had had no notice until the day previous, the Crown counsel pointed out that these medical witnesses, as well as some others in the North-West Territories who were wanted, could all be got within a week; and they offered, not only to consent to an adjournment for that time, but to join with the prisoner's counsel in procuring their attendance, and to pay their expenses.
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