National Newswatch
National Opinion Centre

On this date in 1992 the House of Commons officially recognized the role Métis leader Louis Riel played in founding the province of Manitoba. The motion, introduced by Joe Clark in his capacity as the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, came almost 100 years after Riel was hanged in 1885.

“It is now time to recognize the very important and constructive role Louis Riel played in defending the interests of the Métis people and of contributing to the political development of the west and of Canada,” Clark told MPs during the debate on his motion. “For years Louis Riel’s life and death reminded Canadians of the divisions which exist in our society. Recollections of the events with which Louis Riel was involved brought to the surface tensions between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, between francophones and anglophones, and between western Canadians and central Canadians. However, we must now build on the positive, not the negative dimensions of this experience. The long overdue recognition by this House of Louis Riel’s important role in shaping Canada as we know it today is an indication that we have matured as a nation.”

“It is a demonstration that we see in our common history a source of strength, not of weakness,” Clark continued. “As one Canadian, one western Canadian, I am proud to have a role in providing an opportunity for that recognition to take place in this House of Commons.”

MPs approved Clark’s motion.

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.
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