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92   DAYS OF PREPARATION

During the debate, however, several of the supporters of the Government showed that they were prepared to consider the question of conscription. "Let my honourable friend [Mr. Macdonald] and his leader and his colleagues," said Mr. H. H. Stevens (Vancouver), "support the National Service propaganda, and then perhaps conscription will never be necessary. I hope it will never be necessary in Canada. I hope we will be able to fill the bill without having anything in the nature of conscription." Mr. W. A. Boyes (South Simcoe) remarked: "If the effort in connection with the National Service fails and it becomes necessary to fill the place of the boys who are fighting in Flanders, I am prepared, when the time comes—and it may not be far distant—to support conscription in this country." Mr. W. F. Maclean (South York) at once forecasted conscription and a Union Government. "I believe," he said, "that the day has come when about the first thing to do is to support the Militia Act. It may be that we shall have to come to conscription in this country... . If we are to have conscription we ought to have behind us, supporting it, a united people, a united Parliament, and a united Government."

Early in February, the Prime Minister left for Great Britain; and during his absence the Press debated the question of reinforcements for the front with more vigour and at greater length than ever before. In the English-speaking provinces the disposition seemed more and more to blame Quebec for the falling off in recruiting, while representatives from that province placed the blame at the door of the Government, stating that Quebec had not had a fair chance and had never been given proper leadership. Hon. P. E. Blondin, Postmaster-General, stung by the imputations that Quebec had not been given proper leadership, left his cabinet position and, accompanied by Major-General Lessard, tried to raise a battalion in that province. His attempt, though an earnest and genuinely patriotic one, subsequently


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