The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
SELF-GOVERNMENT. LAFONTAINE AND CARTIER

WHEN Lord Durham accepted the task of settling matters in Canada he desired to be accompanied by some of his favourites, but this was opposed by the Colonial Office. Granted extraordinary powers by Parliament, he wished to appear surrounded by an imposing pompous display greater than that ever made by representatives of the Crown in the New World. On his arrival "he acted," says Bradshaw, one of his admirers, "as though the ordinary reign of law had been abolished."1 He dismissed the Executive Council, and replaced the Special Council by one in which were five members of his suite but no French Canadian.2 He immediately violated British law by offering $5,000 for the capture of Papineau, with threats of death if he returned, and this without a trial.3 He exiled to the Bermudas eight of the men implicated in the rebellion, and this, also without judicial warrant. By so doing he aroused the British Parliament. Piqued by the condemnation of his course he relinquished his office and returned home. His Report, given to the public, excited the greatest enthusiasm, mingled with a most violent opposition. The inflated praises of this document by Anglo-Canadians are now subsiding and making way for a saner estimate.

When one bears in mind the short time that he spent in the country, barely five months, during a part of which he was ill;4 the innumerable demands made upon him as

____________________
1
Self-Government in Canada, p. 206.
2
Pope, The Day of Sir John Macdonald, p. 34.
3
Bradshaw, p. 181.
4
Ibid., p. 273.

-96-

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