“I SHALL NOT REST”
87% Vote to Overturn 1885 Verdict
In 2002 the CBC produced a “Retrial of Louis Riel” that produced an 87% vote to overturn the 1885 verdict that saw Louis Riel “hang by the neck until dead.” Although the re-trial was flawed in many ways and highly criticized by Metis leaders in its day the critical element relates to the fact that more than 9,600 people voted and 87% of them voted to overturn the 1885 verdict. Canada continues to wait for this verdict to be overturned.
In the interest of historical fact please find enclosed the two articles that accompanied this highlighted article.
National Post, October 24, 2002 By Chris Wattie
Edward Greenspan, the prominent defence lawyer, said yesterday he will ask Ottawa to overturn the conviction of Louis Riel after viewers of a controversial retrial voted overwhelmingly to acquit the Metis leader.
More than 9,600 people voted by a margin of 86.7 % to 13.3 % to acquit Riel of treason charges, in an Internet vote held after a television broadcast of The Retrial of Louis Riel, a project co-sponsored by the National Post.
“Isn’t that wonderful?” asked Mr. Greenspan, who acted as defence lawyer for the retrial. “It’s a breathtaking result: Justice is finally done for Louis Riel.”
Mr. Greenspan said the vote was so one-sided he has decided to apply to the federal Cabinet to overturn the verdict of the 1885 jury, which found Riel guilty after an hour of deliberation.
“I shall not rest until the verdict of that jury is overturned,” he said.
Riel Rebellion Editorial:
The fury with which some Metis leaders have greeted the CBC broadcast of The Retrial of Louis Riel is mystifying. In a country notorious for its citizen’s pervasive ignorance of their history one would have thought any broadcast that weighed seriously the justice of Riel’s trial and eventual execution would have been welcome.
The program is a valuable opportunity to educate Canadians about the facts involved in the trial of one of the most fascinating and charismatic figures in our history. Even among those who have made a study of the Northwest Rebellion, there is debate as to whether Riel was a traitor or a patriot. To broaden that debate to ordinary Canadians serves to improve the nations’ understanding of its past.
Yet, metis leaders promptly denounced the broadcast as an “abomination” and, as Gerald Morin, the president of the metis National Council put it, a racist creation of a “bunch of whitemen.” Tony Belcourt, president of the Metis nation of Ontario, immediately filed a formal complaint with the CRTC over the program.
These are narrow-minded and lamentable actions.
The show’s very premise, after all, implies that the original trial may have represented a miscarriage of justice. And given that an overwhelming number of ordinary Canadians from all regions of the country acted as “jurors” to acquit Riel under today’s laws, the broadcast represents a victory for those who not only have sought a pardon for Riel, but consider him a Father of Confederation.
This result can hardly be construed as an affront to the Metis nation. Whether the “verdict” represents an affront to historical truth remains the subject of welcome debate.
National Post Editorial, October 24, 2002
It is a new day and it is time for Canada to exonerate Louis Riel — rielity.ca