Negotiating the Manitoba ActRiel's Provisional Government sent Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot a close adviser of Riel's, Alfred Scott, a Winnipeg bartender, and Judge John Black, to Ottawa to negotiate with the Canadian government. The news of Scott's execution arrived ahead of them. John Schultz and Charles Mair, who had both been imprisoned by the Provisional Government for a period of time, were now in Ontario and determined to turn public opinion against Riel. The killing of Scott gave them just the weapon they needed. Schultz and his supporters described the conflict in Red River in stark religious and racial terms: in their terms Scott, an English-speaking Protestant had been murdered by those who wished to enforce the French language and the Roman Catholic religion on what should become a Protestant and English-speaking Canadian West. Thomas Scott's brother succeeded in having Ritchot and Alfred Scott arrested and temporarily jailed on murder charges. The hostility towards Riel was a sign of an underlying suspicion of both the Catholic Church and the largely French-speaking province of Quebec. Not surprisingly, public opinion in Quebec was much more supportive of Riel and the resistance movement. While Quebecers may have regretted the killing of Thomas Scott, they felt that Riel was protecting the rights of French-speaking Canadians.
With this war of words between Ontario and Quebec raging in the background Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald negotiated with the delegates from Red River. The use of military force was not an option: Canada had no army of its own at the time and the British government said it would not send troops to Red River until Canada had come to an agreement with the community's representatives. Meanwhile the delegates from Red River had added several more demands to the list of rights that had been approved by the Convention of 40. They were now asking that Rupert's Land join Canada as a self-governing province rather than as a territory with an appointed government, protection for the Roman Catholic school system, and a guarantee that the Canadian courts would not prosecute those who participated in the resistance. The Canadian government agreed that Red River would enter Confederation as a new province, to be named Manitoba. It would be tiny in size, with its boundaries stretching little more than 60 miles in any direction from the forks of the Red and Assiniboine. The French and English languages were granted equal standing in the courts and legislature, and provision was made for public support of both a Protestant and Roman Catholic school system. The government agreed that 1.4-million acres of land would be set aside for the children of people of part-Aboriginal ancestry in recognition of their inherited aboriginal land claim. The new province would not have all the powers of other provinces regarding control over its natural resources, but in large measure the resistance had achieved its goals. There was one very loose end: the Canadian government was not prepared to grant an amnesty to the leaders of the resistance at a time when public opinion in Ontario viewed Riel and his supporters as murderers. Instead, Canadian government officials convinced the delegates that they would arrange to have the British government grant the needed amnesty.