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CONSCRIPTION IN CANADA   91

the Address, and perhaps indicating the mind of the Government at the time, said the people of Quebec did not fear conscription. It would not be put into force. Parliament would not approve of conscription because there was no demand for it from the people. His words show that as late as January 22nd, 1917, the thought of conscription was remote from the minds of those authorized to speak for the Government.

"Mr. Speaker," he said, "the imperious needs of the struggle have suggested to certain individuals and to certain newspapers the possibility of the Government establishing obligatory military service. Should I say that the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister and many of his colleagues have refused to consider the suggestion and have stated that the Government had given the subject no thought. I believe, in any case, Mr. Speaker, and I think I am voicing the opinion of the majority of the honourable members in stating that the constitution of the country forbids sending our soldiers to fight outside of Canada, without special legislation being enacted in this House, and that no such legislation altering the very basis of our constitution would be enacted without its being first submitted to the people of Canada. No, Mr. Speaker, there can be no question of conscription. Obligatory enlistment is not needed. The people of Canada have given noble proof of their loyalty. Freely and voluntarily, four hundred thousand men have already answered the call. If they are required, one hundred thousand more will follow of their own free will."

The Prime Minister seemed to concur in the point of view of Mr. Descarries when in his speech on the Address he congratulated "the Mover and Seconder of the Address upon the very admirable speeches which they had made in the discharge of the duty devolving upon them to-day," but in the course of his remarks he laid emphasis on the fact that the Canadian Expeditionary Force had had 70,263 casualties, approximately one-fourth of its strength.


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