On November 23, Riel proposed the formation of a provisional government to replace
the Council of Assiniboia. This surprised the English-speaking half-breeds who asked for a
few days' adjournment for consultation, not believing that their mandate empowered them to
make such a decision. The official transfer of the land to Canada had been set for
December 1, 1869. During this period, Sir John A. Macdonald had postponed payment to the
Company because of the disturbances in the Settlement.
On December 1, McDougall, who had not been notified of this, read the proclamation
announcing the transfer of the Company's territories to Canada. This hasty gesture was
later to cause problems. From that moment, Riel's Provisional Government became
legitimate, for the Company lost all authority as of December 1 and Canada acquired none
since it had not paid anything.
On December 10, Riel's Provisional Government's flag flew on the flag pole at Fort
Garry. On December 27, following John Bruce's resignation, Louis Riel became president of
the Provisional Government. To this point in time, the Canadian government had been
unaware of all the problems at Red River. Macdonald now sent a special commissioner to
explain his government's position to the Métis.
On December 27, Donald Smith, the Hudson's Bay Company's representative in Canada
and a government agent, arrived in the Settlement. A meeting which began on January 19,
1870 attracted upwards of 1,000 people. During the meetings on January 19 and 20, Smith
made it known that his government had fundamentally good intentions with respect to the
people of the Red River Settlement. In order to find a way of negotiating their rights
with Ottawa, Riel proposed that another convention of 20 French-speaking and 20
English-speaking representatives be called to draw up a new list of rights.