The amnesty questionOne of the key demands of the delegates who had traveled from Red River to Ottawa to negotiate Manitoba's entry into Canada was that there be a complete amnesty for all those who had been involved in the Red River Resistance. The Resistance had enjoyed he support of the Métis community from the outset and eventually the English-speaking community had supported the Provisional Government. Without amnesty—a promise that people would not be charged with treason and other crimes for taking part in the Resistance and the actions of the Provisional Government, the Red River community could not develop in a peaceful and settled manner. The Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald was not willing to put a promise of amnesty into writing, but the delegates from Red River thought Canadian government leaders had promised them an amnesty.
As spring turned into summer at Red River in 1870, no amnesty arrived. A British military expedition was, however, slowly making its way westward. The expedition included volunteers from Ontario who had joined up specifically to avenge Thomas Scott's death. The military expedition reached Red River days before the arrival of newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor Adams Archibald. Increasingly fearful for his personal safety Riel left Red River just hours before the military expedition under the command of Colonel Garnet Wolseley arrived. It was a wise decision: Wolseley later wrote that “most of us felt that we had to settle accounts quickly with Riel, who had murdered the Englishman, Mr. Scott. Had we caught him, he would have had no mercy.”
Wolseley soon found that his real task was protecting the Métis from the Canadians, who were bent on avenging Scott. Elzear Goulet, a member of the jury that convicted Scott, was stoned to death by Canadians who went unpunished. Francois Guillemette, another supporter of the resistance was killed during this period of terror when most Métis feared to venture into Red River. As late as 1872 French-Canadian lawyer Joseph Dubuc, who had not been in Red River in 1870, was so badly beaten in the street that he was left blind in one eye. The Ontario government posted a $5,000 reward for Riel, who was forced to take refuge in the United States. He returned to win election to Parliament on three different occasions, but he was never allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons. The question of amnesty came to a head in 1874 when one of Riel's lieutenants, Ambroise Lepine, was arrested, tried and convicted and sentenced to death for Scott's murder. In 1875 the Canadian parliament finally passed granted an amnesty to all those who had been involved in the resistance except for Riel, Lepine and William O'Donoghue. They were to be exiled from Canada for a period of five years—following that period of exile they would be granted amnesty.