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DAYS OF PREPARATION

 

ing practice. The case of Belgium was widely commented upon in Canada. The phrase used by the German Chancellor, "a scrap of paper," became a by-word to express contempt for sacred treaty obligations. Following the lawless invasion of Belgium came the ruthless treatment of the civilian population, men, women, and children,—murder, torture, and nameless outrage, the barbarous destruction of cities and historic monuments. Upon these acts the comments of journals and public speakers in Canada were stern and angry. In this case the appeal was made, not to men of British race alone, but to the whole civilized world. The war on the part of the Allies was represented as a moral crusade, in defence of the honour of women, against murder and outrage; and it was contended that no country, however peaceful, could expect immunity from such outrages, since Belgium was only seeking to defend the neutrality which had been guaranteed by Prussia itself, and which was not only a Belgian right but a duty and a trust held for all Europe. These and subsequent acts of German "frightfulness" are important because they had a direct influence upon the action of Canada. They put fire into articles and speeches and sermons, they became part of the material used by the recruiting officers.

Canada was thus influenced by the Imperial or British view and by the broad humanitarian view. And finally, the argument was used that in sending troops to France Canada was really defending itself, forestalling any possible danger of an attack by Germans by helping to prevent Germany from dominating Europe and making it a base of operations against this and other countries.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Robert Borden, acted upon the assumption that Canada would take an active part in the war, and that Parliament would give the Government all necessary support. On August 1st, three days before Great Britain declared war on Germany, Sir Robert, in a telegram to the British Secretary


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