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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New release from MQUP: Riel's Defence

Just back from a (great) Canadian Law and Society Association conference in Winnipeg, which highlighted Metis and First Nations issues, I thought it wonderfully serendipitous to see this announcement in my mailbox.

Hans V. Hansen has edited two of Louis Riel's speeches: his address to the jury in his trial for treason and to the court following the guilty verdict.

Here's what McGill-Queen's University Press has to say about Riel's Defence: Perspectives on His Speeches

In 1885, Louis Riel was charged with high treason, found guilty, and consequently executed for his role in Saskatchewan's North-West Rebellion. During his trial, the Métis leader gave two speeches, passionately defending the interests of the Métis in western Canada as well as his own life. Riel's Defence studies these speeches, demonstrating the range of Riel's political and personal concerns.

The first and better known of the two speeches addresses the jury, while Riel's second speech - rarely reprinted - addresses the court following his guilty verdict. Both orations have been edited, annotated, and reprinted, and are followed by essays from diverse perspectives including philosophy, law, history, political science, religion, and communication studies. Through the course of their inquiry, contributors come to understand more about Riel's personal character and political thought, as well as his arguments supporting Métis land claims, grievances against the federal government, and his immigration plan for the North-West.

Evaluating the rhetorical quality, legal merit, and cultural stakes of his speeches, Riel's Defence reveals the significance of the last public statements made by a man who indelibly shaped Canada’s history by combining his personal vision with a national vision.
Hansen is a philosopher, and his primary interest is in argument rather than legal history per se, but the book is billed as a multi-disciplinary study, and should be of interest to legal historians as well as anyone concerned with the history of the Canadian West and its indigenous peoples.

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