CHARLES NOLIN sworn
Examined by MR. CASGRAIN:
(Mr. Marceau was sworn as interpreter.)
Q. You live at St Laurent? A. At the present time, yes.
Q. You lived before in Manitoba? A. Yes.
Q. Do you know when the prisoner came into the country? A. Yes.
Q. About what time was it? A. I think about the beginning of July 1884.
Q. You met him several times between that time and the time of the insurrection? A. Yes.
Q. Did the prisoner speak about his plans, and if so, what did he say? A. About a month after he arrived he showed me a book that he had written in the States. What he showed me in that book was first to destroy England and Canada.
Q. And? A. And also to destroy Rome and the Pope.
Q. Anything else? A. He said that he had a mission to fulfill, a divine mission, and as a proof that he had a mission he showed a letter from the Bishop of Montreal, eleven years back.
Q. Did he say how he would carry out his plans? A. He did not say how he would carry out his plans then.
Q. Did he tell you something after? A. He commenced to talk about his plans about the 1st of December 1884.
Q. What did he tell you? A. In the beginning of December 1884, he began to show a desire to have money, he spoke to me about it first I think.
Q. How much did he say he wanted? A. The first time he spoke of money I think he said he wanted $10,000 or $15,000.
Q. From whom would he get the money? A. The first time he spoke about it he did not know any particular plan to get it, at the same time he told me that he wanted to claim an indemnity from the Canadian Government. He said that the Canadian Government owed him about $100,000, and then the question arose who the persons were whom he would have to talk to the Government about the indemnity. Some time after that the prisoner told me that he had an interview with Father Andre and that he had made peace with the church, that since his arrival in the country he had tried to separate the people from the clergy, that until that time he was at open war almost with the clergy. He said that he went to the church with Father Andre and in the presence of another priest and the blessed sacrament he had made peace, and said that he would never again do anything against the clergy. Father Andre told him he would use his influence with the Government to obtain for him $35,000. He said that he would be contented with $35,000 then, and that he would settle with the Government himself for the balance of the $100,000. That agreement took place at Prince Albert. The agreement took place at St Laurent and then Father Andre went back to his mission at Prince Albert.
Q. Before December were there meetings at which Riel spoke and at which you were present? A. Yes.
Q. How many? A. Till the 24th of February I assisted at seven meetings to the best of my knowledge.
Q. Did the prisoner tell you what he would do if the Government paid him the indemnity in question?
Q. What did he tell you? A. He said if he got the money he wanted from the Government he said he would go wherever the Government wished to send him. He had told that to Father Andre, if he was an embarrassment to the Government by remaining in the North-West he would even go to the Province of Quebec. He said also, that if he got the money he would go to the United States and start a paper and raise the other nationalities in the States. He said before the grass is that high in this country you will see foreign armies in this country. He said I will commence by destroying Manitoba, and then I will come and destroy the North-West and take possession of the North-West.
Q. Did anyone make a demand in the name of the prisoner for the indemnity? A. In the beginning of January the Government asked for tenders to construct a telegraph line between Edmonton and Duck Lake. I tendered for it.
Q. You withdrew your tender? A. Yes.
Q. Why? A. On the 29th of January the tenders were to be opened, on the 27th the prisoner came with Dumont and asked me to resign my contract in his favor, because the Government had not given him any answer to his claim for $35,000, so as to frighten the Government. The prisoner asked to have a private interview to speak of that privately with Dumont and Maxime Lepine. We went to Lepine's and it was then that Riel told me of his plans. Q. What were his plans? A. The prisoner asked me to resign him my contract to show the Government that the half-breeds were not satisfied, because the Government had not given Riel what he asked for.
Q. Did he speak how he would realize his plans? A. Not there, I spoke to him.
Q. What did you say? A. I told him I would not sacrifice anything for him particularly, on account of his plan of going into the United States. I would not give him five cents, but that if he would make a bargain with me, with Lepine and Dumont as witnesses, I proposed to him certain conditions. I proposed that he would abandon his plan of going to the United States and raising the people, that he should abandon his idea of going to the States and raising an army to come into Canada. The second condition was, that he would renounce his title as an American citizen. The third condition was, that he would accept a seat in the House of Commons as soon as the North-West would be divide into counties.
Q. Were those conditions accepted by the prisoner? A. Yes; the next day I received a telegram; answer to a telegram from McDowall. The telegram said that the Government was going to grant the rights of the half-breeds, but there was nothing said about Riel's claim.
Q. Did you show the answer to Riel? A. I showed the reply I received next Sunday.
Q. That was in the month? A. Of February.
Q. In the beginning of the month? A. Yes.
Q. What did the prisoner say? A. He answered, that it was 400 years that the English had been robbing, and that it was time to put a stop to it, that it had been going on long enough.
Q. Was there a meeting about that time, about the 8th or 24th of February? A. A meeting?
Q. At which the prisoner spoke? A. There was a meeting on the 24th of February, when the prisoner was present.
Q. What took place at that meeting, did the prisoner say anything about his departing for the United States? A. Yes.
Q. What did the prisoner tell you about that? A. He told me that it would be well to try and make it appear as if they wanted to stop him going into the States. Five or six persons were appointed to go among the people, and when Riel's going away was spoken about the people were to say 'no, no.' It was expected that Gagnon would be there, but he was not there. Riel never had any intention of leaving the country.
Q. Who instructed the people to do that? A. Riel suggested that himself.
Q. Was that put in practice? A. Yes.
Q. Did the prisoner tell you he was going to the United States? A. I was chairman of the meeting when the question of Riel's going away was brought up.
Q. In the beginning of March was there a meeting at the Halcro settlement? A. Yes.
Q. Were you present when that meeting was organized by him? A. The meeting was not exactly organized by the prisoner; it was organized by me; but the prisoner took advantage of the meeting to do what he did. The object of the meeting was to inform the people of the answer the Government had given to the petition they had sent in.
Q. Between the 1st of March and the meeting at Halcro was there an interview between the prisoner and Father Andre? A. Yes; on the 2nd of March.
Q. Those notes you have in your hand were made at the time? A. Yes, about the time. On the 2nd of March there was a meeting between Father Andre and the prisoner at the mission.
Q. At the interview between Father Andre and the prisoner, did the prisoner speak about the formation of a provisional government? A. About seven or eight half-breeds were there. The prisoner came about between 10 and 11 o'clock.
Q. What did he say to Father Andre? A. The prisoner was with Napoleon Nauld and Damase Carriere. The prisoner appeared to be very excited. He said to Father Andre: 'You must give me permission to proclaim a provisional government before twelve o'clock to-night.'
Q. What day was this? A. The 2nd of March.
Q. What then? A. The prisoner and Father Andre had a dispute, and Father Andre put the prisoner out of doors.
Q. What took place at the meeting at Halcro? What did you see? A. I saw about sixty men arrive there nearly all armed, with the prisoner.
Q. What day was that? A. 3rd of March.
Q. Were these men armed? A. Nearly all were armed.
Q. What did you do? A. That meeting was for the purpose of meeting the English half-breeds and the Canadians. When I saw the men coming with arms I asked them what they wanted and I said the best thing they could do was to put the arms in a wagon and cover them up so they would not be seen.
Q. The prisoner spoke at the meeting? A. Yes.
Q. What did he say? A. He said the police wanted to arrest him but he said these are the real police, pointing to the men that were with him.
Q. Did you speak at the meeting? A. Yes, I spoke at that meeting and as I could not speak in English I asked the prisoner to interpret for me. Before leaving in the morning the prisoner and I had a conversation. He had slept at my place that night. Before leaving I reproached him for what he had done the night before.
Q. On the 5th of March? A. The prisoner came with Gabriel Dumont to see me, he proposed a plan to me that he had written upon a piece of paper. He said that he had decided to take up arms and to induce the people to take up arms and the first thing was to fight for the glory of God, for the honor of religion, and for the salvation of our souls. The prisoner said that he had already nine names upon the paper and he asked me for my name. I told him that the plan was not perfect, but since he wanted to fight for the love of God I would propose a more perfect plan. My plan was to have public prayers in the Catholic chapel during nine days and to go to confession and communion and then do as our consciences told us.
Q. Did the prisoner adopt that plan? A. He said that nine days was too long. I told him that I did not care about the time and that I would not sign his paper. The prisoner asked me to come the next day to his house. I went, and there we discussed his plan. There were six or seven persons there.
Q. Did you propose your plan? A. He proposed his plan and then he proposed mine.
Q. Did you decide to have the nine days? A. We decided upon the nine days' prayers; that plan was adopted almost unanimously, no vote was taken upon it.
Q. Was the nine days' prayer commenced in the church? A. Yes, on the Sunday following.
Q. What day was that? A. The meeting at Riel's was on the 6th. I think it was on the 6th of March.
Q. When did the nine days' prayer commence? A. It was announced in the church to commence on the Tuesday following and to close on the 19th, St Joseph's day.
Q. Did the prisoner assist at the prayers? A. No, he prevented people going.
Q. When did you finally differ from the prisoner in opinion?
A. About twenty days before they took up arms. I broke with the prisoner and made open war upon him.
Q. What happened on the 19th? A. On the 19th of March I and the prisoner were to meet to explain the situation. I was taken prisoner by four armed men.
Q. Who were the armed men? A. Philip Garriepy, David Touron, Francis Vermette and Joseph Flemoine. I was taken to the church of St Antoine. I saw some Indians and half-breeds armed in the church.
Q. Did you have occasion to go to the council after that? A. During that night I was brought before the council.
Q. Was the prisoner there? A. Yes.
Q. What did he say? A. I was brought before the council about ten o'clock at night. The prisoner made the accusation against me. Q. What did you do? A. I defended myself.
Q. What did you say in a few words? A. I proved to the council that the prisoner had made use of the movement to claim the indemnity for his own pocket.
Q. You were acquitted? A. Yes.
Q. You were in the church after that? A. The prisoner protested against the decision of the council.
Q. Why did you join the movement? A. To save my life.
Q. You were condemned to death? A. Yes.
Q. When were you condemned to death? A. When I was made prisoner I had been condemned to death, when I was brought to the church.
Q. On the 21st of March were you charged with a commission? Do you recognize that? A. Yes.
Q. Who gave you that? A. The prisoner himself.
Q. For what purpose? A. To go and meet the delegates of Major Crozier. I did not give them the document, because I thought it was better not.
Q. Do you remember the 26th of March, the day of the battle at Duck Lake? A. Yes.
Q. Was the prisoner there? A. Yes. After the news came that the police were coming, the prisoner started one of the first for Duck Lake on horseback.
Q. What did he carry? A. He had a cross.
Q. Some time after you left? A. Yes.
Q. You went to Prince Albert? A. Yes.
Q. In the beginning of December, 1884, the prisoner had begun speaking of his plans about taking up arms? A. Yes.
By MR. LEMIEUX:
Q. You took a very active part in the political movements in this country
since 1869? A. Yes. In 1869 I was in Manitoba. The prisoner is my cousin.
In 1884 I knew that the prisoner was living in Montana. I understood that
he was teaching school there. He had his wife and children there. I was
aware there was a scheme to bring him into the country.
Q. You thought the presence of the prisoner would be good for the half-breeds, for the claims they were demanding from the Government? A. Yes.
Q. In that movement the Catholic clergy took part? A. The clergy did not take part in the political movements, but they assisted otherwise.
Q. The clergy of all denominations? A. Yes, all the religions in the North-West.
Q. You were not satisfied with the way things were going, and you thought it necessary to have Riel as a rallying point? A. Not directly, not quite.
Q. Who sent to bring him? A. A committee was nominated, and it was decided to send the resolution to Ottawa. We did not know whether the petition was right or whether we had the right to present it. We were sending to Ottawa, and they were to pass Riel's residence. When the time came we saw that we could not realize money enough to send them there, and the committee changed its decision. Delegates were sent to MR. Riel to speak about this petition, and they were to invite him into the country if they thought proper.
Q. Did the prisoner object to come? A. I don't know.
Q. Who were the delegates sent by the committee? A. Gabriel Dumont, Michel Dumas and James Isbester. The prisoner came with his wife and children and lived with me about four months.
Q. A constitutional movement took place in the Saskatchewan to redress the grievances? A. Yes.
Q. The half-breeds of all religions took part? A. Yes.
Q. The whites? A. Not directly, they sympathised very much with us. The whites did not take direct action in the movement, but sympathised greatly with the half-breeds.
The witness is asked during what length of time the political movement lasted and he says it commenced in March 1884, and continued until February or March 1885. He says that the prisoner, after having lived about three months at his place, went into his own house that he thinks was given to him by Mr. Ouellette.
The witness is asked if in September the prisoner wanted to go, and the witness answers that he knows that the prisoner spoke of going, but he never believed that he wanted to go.
The witness is asked at what date about he ceased to have friendly relations with the prisoner, and he says about twenty days before the taking up of arms, which was about the 18th of March.
The witness is asked if in the month of February he thought yet MR. Riel could be useful to their cause, and he says that in that month he thought that if he acted constitutionally, he would be useful to their cause, but that as soon as he heard that the Government had refused the prisoner the indemnity that he claimed, that he said he had no more confidence in him as a leader in a constitutional way.
The witness is asked if after the Government had refused to pay him his indemnity that the prisoner pretended that he wanted to go, and he says yes.
The witness is asked how he can say, under his oath, that if he had no confidence in him, in the prisoner, why he acted with him to deceive the people, and the witness answers that he says what he saw and heard.
The witness is asked again to say how it is that having lost confidence in the prisoner he agreed with him to deceive the people and make them believe that he wanted to go when he knew he did not want to leave the country. He says that the prisoner came and asked him to do that because Captain Gagnon was there, and so as to impress the Government, and he says that he thought that at the time they expected that MR. Gagnon would be at the meeting and it would bring a satisfactory result for Mr. Riel.
The witness is asked, in other words you wanted to put a false impression on MR. Gagnon so as to obtain a good result for Mr. Riel, and the witness answers no, not at all.
The witness is asked if in 1869 he knew the prisoner well, and he says yes.
The witness is asked whether after that didn't they start a political movement with him in Manitoba. He says that in Manitoba in 1869 and 1870 he did not directly start any movement with the prisoner, and then he is asked if he did not act like he did in tills case, if he did not start with them and abandon them, and he says yes. He says that he participated in that movement as long as he thought it was constitutional, but as soon as he saw it was not, he withdrew.
The witness is asked if subsequently to the rebellion and the abandonment that he made in 1870, if he was not appointed Minister of Agriculture, and he says in 1875 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture. He is asked if he was not looked upon as one of the leaders of the half-breeds of the Saskatchewan, and he says he was looked upon as one of the leaders.
The witness is asked if Father Fourmand did not want to stop Mr. Riel from acting, and he says it may be so, but it is not to his knowledge. Witness says there was a meeting on the 24th February. He knows Father Andre spoke there, but he could not say if he asked the prisoner to remain. He says he may have said so.
The witness is asked if about that time in February there had not been a dinner at which the political situation of the Saskatchewan was discussed, and he says he knows of one on the 6th January.
The witness says that at that time he spoke, but he did not speak much. He said something at that dinner, but he did not speak much.
The witness is asked if he can swear that at that dinner it was not spoken of, the grievances of the half-breeds, and the refusal of the Government to redress them, and the witness says that he was present at that dinner, and that to his knowledge he does not remember that there was any political speech at that.
The witness says that he had very frequent occasions to meet Riel conversing with him since March 1884, till the moment they disagreed.
Witness is asked if the prisoner ever told him that he considered himself a prophet, and he says yes.
The witness is asked if after the meal something strange did not happen, if there was not a question of the Spirit of God between the witness and the prisoner.
Witness says it was not after a dinner, but it was one evening, they were spending the night together at his house, and there was a noise in his bowels, and the prisoner asked him if he heard that, and the witness said yes, and then the prisoner told him that that was his liver, and that he had inspirations that worked through every part of his body.
The witness is asked if at that moment the prisoner did not write in a book that he was inspired of, and the witness answers that he did not write in a book, but on a sheet of paper; he said he was inspired.
The witness is asked whether he ever heard the prisoner speak of his internal policy in the division of the country, if he should succeed in his enterprise, and he says yes. He says that after his arrival the prisoner showed him a book written with buffalo blood, and the witness said that the prisoner in that plan said that after having taken England and Canada, he would divide Canada and give the Province of Quebec to the Prussians, Ontario to the Irish, and the North-West Territory he divided into different parts between the European nations. He says he does not remember them all, but the Jews were to have a part.
The witness says that he thinks he also spoke of the Hungarians and Bavarians. He says that he thought the whole world should have a piece of the cake, that Prussia was to have Quebec.
The witness says that since 1884 there was a committee which was called a council.
Witness says he was one of the members of that committee or council. He was only an ordinary member - not president. Mr. Andrew Spence was president. He was an English half-breed. He says that the council condemned him to death, and liberated him after and offered him a place in the council.
The witness is asked if he refused that position, and he says he did not refuse it, that he accepted it, but it was only to save his life, because he had been condemned to death.
The witness is asked if he was present at the meeting at Prince Albert, and he says he was not there, he was outside. He did not speak there.
The witness says that before the battle at Duck Lake he saw Riel going out with a crucifix about a foot and a half long, that the crucifix had been taken out of the next church near by.
The witness is asked if it is not true that when there was a question in the Saskatchewan of the police, the character of the prisoner changed completely, and that he became very excitable and even uncontrollable. And the witness says that whenever even the word police was pronounced, he got very excited.
The witness is asked if at the time it was said in the district that 500 police would be sent to answer the petition of the half-breeds, his character did not become very excitable, and he says that after that he did not see the prisoner, but that before that whenever the word police was pronounced, he got very excited. He says that what he said here was about the month of January or even February, and about that time Captain Gagnon passed in the country and stopped at the prisoner's house to enquire what was the road to St Laurent, and there was only the prisoner's wife and MR. Dumont in the house, and when the prisoner came back and was informed that MR. Gagnon had been there, he got very much excited, and the women could not explain it what Gagnon had stopped there for, and he got very excited, and the population generally got excited too. He does not know whether the policemen had their uniforms on or not. He says he cannot say at what date that was that Gagnon passed there, but he says he heard of the 500 policemen coming to the country only after arms were taken up.
The witness says that one of his sons was arrested after the fight at Batoche, and that he was brought here to the barracks, and was released within the last few days.
The witness is asked if he had any influence, and he says he does not know what influence he could exercise. He says that at any rate he has been put at liberty since the witness came to Regina to give his evidence in this case.
Riel Asks to Pose Questions to Nolin; Counsel Disagrees and Judge Refuses
PRISONER (RIEL): Your Honor, would you permit me a little while.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: In the proper time, I will tell you when you may speak to me, and give you every opportunity - not just now though.
PRISONER: If there was any way, by legal procedure, that I should be allowed to say a word, I wish you would allow me before this prisoner (witness) leaves the box.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I think you should suggest any question you have to your own counsel.
PRISONER: Do you allow me to say? I have some observation to make before the court.
MR. FITZPATRICK: I don't think this is the proper time, your Honor, that the prisoner should be allowed to say anything in the matter.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I should ask him at the close of the case, before it goes to the jury.
MR. FITZPATRICK: That is the time to do it.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I think you should mention it quietly to your counsel, and if they think it proper for your defence, they will put it.
MR. FITZPATRICK: I think the time has now arrived when it is necessary to state to the court that we require that the prisoner in the box should thoroughly understand that anything that is done in this case, must be done through us, and if he wishes anything to be done, he must necessarily give us instructions. He should be given to understand that he should give any instructions to us, and he must not be allowed to interfere. He is now endeavoring to withhold instructions.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Is there not this difficulty under the statute, saying that he shall do so?
MR. FITZPATRICK: I think the statute provides that he may make statements to the jury.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: The prisoner may defend himself under the statute, personally or by counsel.
MR. FITZPATRICK: Once he has counsel, he has no right to interfere.
MR. ROBINSON: He has the right to address the jury. I am not aware of any right till then.
PRISONER: If you will allow me, your Honor, this case comes to be extraordinary, and while the Crown, with the great talents they have at its service, are trying to show I am guilty - of course it is their duty, my counsellors are trying - my good friends and lawyers, who have been sent here by friends whom I respect - are trying to show that I am insane.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Now you must stop.
PRISONER: I will stop and obey your court.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I will tell you once more, if you have any questions which you think ought to be put to this witness, and which your advisers have not put, just tell them quietly and they will put it, if they think it proper to do so.
MR. FITZPATRICK: I don't think he ought to be allowed to say any more.
MR. OSLER: The court understands that we are not objecting to the fullest kind of questions, we are only saying they should properly go through the counsel. We are not objecting, and I suppose we would be quite willing, if the prisoner's counsel are, that he should ask any particular question himself. We are perfectly willing. That is a matter between himself and his counsel.
MR. FITZPATRICK: For the last two days we felt ourselves in this position, that this man is actually obstructing the proper management of this case, for the express purpose of having a chance to interfere in this case, and he must be given to understand immediately that he won't be allowed to interfere in it, or else it will be absolutely useless for us to endeavor to continue any further in it.
MR. RICHARDSON: Is that a matter that I ought to interfere in?
Isn't that a matter entirely between yourself and your client? Suppose you cannot go on and my ruling was called in question, and the question was raised, and the court allowed such and sucha thing to be done?
MR. FITZPATRICK: I don't pretend to argue with the court; it is not my practice, it is not my custom. I have stated to the court what I think of this case. I think the court here is bound by the ordinary rules of law, and so long as the prisoner is represented by counsel it is his duty to give such instructions to his counsel as to enable him to do duty to his case.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I admit he ought to do so, but suppose he does not, and suppose counsel think fit to throw up their brief.
MR. FITZPATRICK: We are entirely free to do that, and that is matter for our consideration at the present moment if the prisoner is allowed to interfere. Of course, I have to take the ruling of the court.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I don't like to dictate to you, but it strikes me that now an opportunity should be taken of ascertaining whether there is really anything that has not been put to this witness that ought to have been put.
MR. FITZPATRICK: We have very little desire to have questions put which we, in our discretion, do not desire to put. What has this court got to do with theories about inspiration and the division of lands, further than we have gone into it? However, I, of course, have to accept the ruling of the court as it is given, and then it will be for the counsel for the defence to consider the position.
MR. ROBINSON: It must be quite understood that no rulings of the court are given with the desire or at the request or with the concurrence of the Crown. We have nothing to do in the shape of interference. We must not be drawn into the position that there is a ruling of the court on a question of that kind. I think it would probably be right for the court to ask the prisoner whether the case is or is not fully in the hands of the counsel. It is for the prisoner to say.
MR. FITZPATRICK: We accept that suggestion.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Prisoner, are you defended by counsel?
Are you defended by counsel? Answer my question, please, are you defended by counsel? Is your case in the hands of counsel?
PRISONER: Partly; my cause is partly into their hands.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Now, stop; are you defended by counselor not? Have you advisers?
PRISONER: I don't wish to leave them aside. I want them, I want their services, but I want my cause to be, your Honor, to be defended to the best which circumstances allow.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Then you must leave it in their hands.
PRISONER: I will, if you please, say this reason: My counsel come from Quebec, from a far province. They have to put questions to men with whom they are not acquainted, on circumstances which they don't know, and although I am willing to give them all the information that I can, they cannot follow the thread of all the questions that could be put to the witnesses. They lose more than three-quarters of the good opportunities of making good answers, not because they are not able, not because they are not able; they are learned, they are talented, but the circumstances are such that they cannot put all the questions. If I would be allowed, as it was suggested, this case is extraordinary.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: You have told me your case is in the hand of advisers.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Now you must leave it there until you get through. I will give you an opportunity of speaking to the court at the proper time.
PRISONER: The witnesses are passing and the opportunities.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Tell your counsel.
PRISONER: I cannot all. I have too much to say. There is too much to say.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: If there is any question not put to this witness which you think ought to be put, tell it to your counsel and they will say whether it should be put.
PRISONER: I have on cross-examination 200 questions.
MR. ROBINSON: We had better understand this. Counsel for the Crown are taking no part. Our inclination is if counsel for the prisoner agree to it, to let the prisoner put any questions he pleases to the witness. We don't wish to interfere in any way between the prisoner and his counsel.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I can quite understand that, Mr. Robinson, but if a man tells me he is defended by counsel, I think he ought to have a reasonable opportunity of stopping that defence when he pleases, and when he tells me he has stopped it then he takes the management into his own hands.
MR. GREENSHIELDS: If he will just say that, that is all right.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: At present I think I am right. I think both sides agree that my course is to say, either one or the other, counselor prisoner, and while the counsel are there they have the conduct.
MR. FITZPATRICK: Would your Honor allow us, say five minutes of a consultation?
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I was just going to suggest that you should take a little time and that the prisoner should go with you. (Adjournment takes place here in accordance with the suggestion.)
On the court re-assembling:
MR. LEMIEUX: May it please your Honor, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Greenshields
and myself are discharging as you understand very important duties before
this court. The duties we are discharging now may be public duties, because
the prisoner having in our province a number of friends, a number of people
who knew him a number of years ago, they thought that we should come here
and give him the benefit of our little experience and knowledge of the
law, that we may have from a number of years' practice at the bar.
Now since the beginning of the trial, we have done our very best to help him. It appears that he is not well pleased, or it appears he thinks we did not put all the questions to the witnesses that we should have put. Well the law says that when a man appears by counsel, that counsel must act for him during the whole trial. We appeared for him, he acquiesced in our appearance
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Does it say that you must through the whole trial?
MR. LEMIEUX: Well as long as we are disavowed. We appeared for the prisoner and he acquiesced in our appearance, our appearance is on the record and if the prisoner insists upon putting to the witnesses questions, we object to it, and we moreover say that we will not continue to act in the case as counsel. We think however it is too late for him to now disavow or refuse.
MR. ROBINSON: If the prisoner under the special circumstances of this case desires to join his counsel in conducting the examination or cross-examination of witnesses, the Crown do not object to it.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: My opinion of the course which the court ought to follow has not changed in the interval. If this man insists on putting a question, I don't think the court should refuse him. It would be a matter between himself and his counsel. There cannot be two.
MR. FITZPATRICK: Does your Honor think that so long as there is counsel on the record that a prisoner has got a right to put a question to a witness, otherwise than through the counsel?
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: He must take the consequences and know what the consequences will be, and I think he does know for I explained the consequences.
MR. FITZPATRICK: Questions can only be put by a prisoner to a witness in the presence of counsel after counsel have been refused. If he wants to take that step, on him the responsibility will lie.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Prisoner, do you understand the position these gentlemen tell you you are taking.
PRISONER: I do, my Honor, and I know from my good friends and my learned lawyers that it is a matter of dignity for their profession, and I consider if my intentions were not respectful for them and for the friends who sent them, I would commit a great fault against my friends and against myself; but in this case would ask your Honor if there is any possibility that I am allowed to put questions
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Listen to me for one moment. I say that I shall not stop you from putting a question. I could not stop you from putting a question, but if you do it, you do it with the knowledge that those gentlemen will abandon you at once. I think that is the position you gentlemen put it in, and you will have to take the responsibility of that. These gentlemen who are opposing you do not, will not interfere.
PRISONER: I thank them for their liberality.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: You must understand that, and I hope you do understand it. Now arrange with your counsel as to what course you will take.
PRISONER: I was going to ask if it is in any way possible that I should put questions to the witness, and my good lawyers being there to give me advice necessary to stop me when I go out of the procedure.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: That is a matter between you and them. It is entirely a matter between you and them.
PRISONER: Your Honor, it is not because they don't put all the questions that they ought, but they don't know all the circumstances, and they cannot know them because they were far away.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Then if you think they are not properly instructed, I will give you an opportunity to instruct them, if they had not had an opportunity of getting proper information from you.
MR. LEMIEUX: We don't want that. We have had full instructions. We cannot pretend to do anything of the kind. We have been here for two weeks in constant communication with him, and we can't learn anything more in a few hours.
PRISONER: The case concerns my good lawyers and my friends, but in the first place it concerns me, and as I think, conscientiously, that I ought to do this for me and for those who have been with me, I cannot abandon the wish that I expressed to the court, and I cannot abandon the wish that I expressed to retain my counsels, because they are good and learned.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Now, do you intend to retain your counsel?
PRISONER: Yes, and to help myself when they help me.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Do you wish to retain your counsel?
PRISONER: I wish to retain, first my chances of doing the best I can for myself, and then to take the help of those who are so kind to me.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: But they say they won't help you unless you leave the whole case in their hands.
PRISONER: They ought to do it.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: They cannot help you.
PRISONER: Yes, I know that. It is between them and me. I think I would throwaway many good opportunities, your Honor. I hold this court thanks because you have retarded my trial for fifteen days, and after fifteen days, you have delayed eight other days, and even the court has been kind enough to furnish money to have witnesses, and it is because they show me impartiality. Since it is the first time that I speak before the court, it is my duty to acknowledge what I owe you in that way, because you could have refused it.
MR. ROBINSON: Does the prisoner thoroughly understand that he will have an opportunity of addressing the jury?
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: It is in regard to putting questions to this witness.
MR. OSLER: The simple way would be for him to suggest a question to the counsel.
MR. FITZPATRICK: We have asked him half a dozen times to suggest, and he says he knows all about it himself.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Will you then suggest a question to your own lawyers? Don't read it out, but suggest to them. They will listen to you. One of the gentlemen will listen quietly to anything you wish to put.
PRISONER: All the witnesses for the Crown have nearly passed away from the box, and there is only a few. I have been insisting since yesterday on this, in the hope that they would make that concession to my own interest, and to the cause which they defend. I have been patiently waiting. As they have determined to go on, I will assert that, while I wish to retain them, I cannot abandon my dignity. Here I have to defend myself against the accusation of high treason, or I have to consent to the animal life of an asylum. I don't care much about animal life if I am not allowed to carry with it the moral existence of an intellectual being.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Now, stop.
PRISONER: Yes, your Honor, I will.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: If you have got any question which has not been put to this witness, why can't you tell those gentlemen? (After a pause.) Very well, then, they don't think it proper to put it. Now, I understand you to say that you wish to retain the services of these lawyers throughout your defence - the rest of your defence, don't I?
PRISONER: I want to ally the small ability I have to their great ability.
MR. OSLER: The statute 7 William IV says he shall make full defence by counsel.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: That is the last Treason Act.
MR. OSLER: Counsel is assigned by the court, and then he has also the right to address the jury after the close of the case. It is a special privilege in treason.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Well, the authority which has justbeen put in my hands is this: Where after a witness has been fully cross-examined by the defendant's lawyer, the court refused to let the defendant examine, this was held not to violate the constitutional right of defence by himself. I think I shall have to tell you, too, that you are in your counsel's hands, and if you and they cannot agree, then will come another question, whether the court will not further interfere, and say counsel must go on.
PRISONER: By what has been said there, he shall make full defence
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I will give you an opportunity of addressing the court, not while the examination is going on, though, of the witnesses.
PRISONER: After traveling 800 miles why shouldn't they travel the other piece of allowing ten questions; it is the coronation of their kindness.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: Have you any questions to ask the witness? (to counsel) Let the re-examination go on.
Examination of Mr. Charles Nolin continued, through the interpreter.
The witness is asked if the council which he spoke of a while ago,and which was presided over by Mr. Andrew Spence, was the same that condemned him to death, and he says no.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: That is, the old council was not the council that condemned him to death?
Witness says that the council that condemned him to death was one that was called exovede.
Witness is asked if the prisoner had separated from the clergy, and he says completely. He says the half-breeds are people who need religion. Religion has a great influence on their mind.
The witness is asked if with religion the prisoner would have succeeded in bringing half-breeds with him, and the witness answers no, it would never have succeeded. If the prisoner had not made himself appear as a prophet, he would never have succeeded in bringing the half-breeds with him.
By MR. LEMIEUX, re-cross-examination:
The witness is asked if the prisoner did not lose a great deal of his influence in that way, by the fact that he lost the influence of the clergy, and he says that at the time he gained influence by working against the clergy and by making himself out as a priest.
The witness is asked if he means that the people did not have confidence in their clergy, and he says no; but he says they were ignorant, and they were taking advantage of their ignorance and their simplicity.
Riel Asks Again to Pose Question; Suggests Discharging his Attorneys and Representing Himself
PRISONER: I wish to put a question myself to the witness in the box,
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: If your counsel see fit to put it, they will put it, and if not the witness is discharged.
MR. LEMIEUX: I asked the prisoner if he had any questions to put to the witness through me, and he said he had none, that he would only put questions by himself.
PRISONER: I cannot abandon my wish, your Honor. I leave it to your consideration: my two wishes - of defending myself and of retaining them.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: I have made this memorandum, that it may not be misunderstood: The prisoner asks to be allowed to put questions himself to the witness who has just been here, and his counsel say that they manage his case, and object to the prisoner putting these questions as such. Mr. Lemieux explains to the court that the witness has been specially asked to inform counselor himself what he desires as to this witness, and I tell the prisoner that the court at this stage cannot allow both counsel and prisoner to manage the defence. While he has counsel, counsel must conduct, but at a proper stage, he has rights which the court will respect.
MR. ROBINSON: I wish it to be understood in this way: I understand the prisoner to say that he declines to make his choice between allowing his counsel to examine witnesses and joining him in examination, that he wishes then to examine him, and that he wishes to ask himself directly such questions as he desires; and I understand counsel to say that they cannot accept the responsibility of conducting his case if he insists upon that.
(Counsel for the defence say yes, that's it.)
MR. ROBINSON: We will assist the counsel for the prisoner in any way that is proper.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: If it were an ordinary criminal case, I should not hesitate, but this is beyond the ordinary run of cases that I have had to do with in my whole career.
PRISONER: Have I to keep silent?
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: You can inform your counsel what you want. You have selected them and the court recognizes them.
PRISONER: Your Honor, I have another question to ask you. Can my counsel insist upon being my counsel if I thank them for their services?
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: They were the counsel who represented you at the start. They were recognized by you, and I don't think at this stage I should refuse to recognize them as having charge and the responsibility for the defence.
MR. LEMIEUX: We accept the responsibility.
PRISONER: Your Honor, I have accepted them, but you all know why you accept defenders, it is to defend ourselves, and I think that since they have begun matters are taking a shape that would allow me to make the petition that I make presently to your honor and the court.
MR. JUSTICE RICHARDSON: You might find yourself in this position: Suppose these gentlemen do not continue your defence, you might have counsel assigned by the court to defend you, and then you would be bound.
PRISONER: It is not against their dignity. I cannot see it in that light.