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CONSCRIPTION IN CANADA   93

proved to be a failure. He did not obtain enough men or one battalion; in fact fell a little short of a total of three hundred.

In April, two events occurred which in some measure prepared the Canadian people for the drastic principle of compulsory service. The battle of Vimy Ridge, though a glorious victory, brought sorrow to thousands of Canadian homes and further depleted the Canadian reserves. Then again Canada got an object lesson in conscription from the United States, where with comparatively little debate the House of Representatives passed the Selective Draft Bill by 399 votes to 24, and the Senate by 81 to 8.

In the Canadian Press emphasis was laid on the action of the United States, and most of the articles printed were not slow in applying the lesson to this country.

The Prime Minister returned to Canada on May 15th, to a land waiting anxiously for a declaration of policy. Three days later he made his historic announcement in the House of Commons that he would introduce a Conscription Bill. The occasion was unique. The cramped quarters in the Victoria Memorial Museum, the temporary home of Parliament, were filled to over-flowing. Though Sir Robert deemed it his duty to take up much time with a record of the doings of the War Cabinet, members and the crowded galleries hung expectantly on every word. But when, with great solemnity and yet with more than customary vigour he announced the intention of the Government to back up the men at the Front by means of a draft law, the enthusiasm of most of his audience broke loose. Even the galleries joined in the applause. Many of the Liberal members pounded their desks as lustily as any on the Conservative side. Portions of the Premier's speech are worth placing in this record:

"It is apparent to me," he said, "that the voluntary system will not yield further substantial results. I hoped that it would. The Government has made every effort within its power so far as I can judge. . . . I


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