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CONSCRIPTION IN CANADA   95

The Prime Minister's announcement and Sir Wilfrid's rather vague rejoinder started a political revolution. At once there were signs that Canada was divided into two camps, conscription and anti-conscription. Leading Liberal papers did not wait for the voice of their party leaders, and even the Liberal Toronto Globe remarked: "No true patriot or friend of liberty will shrink from the sacrifice. Canada can do not less and be true to herself." Such sentiment in favour of the course of the Government was pretty fairly reflected by the Liberal Press generally. Some officials of the Trades and Labour Congress came out flat-footed in opposition to the proposal, but in the main the only serious objection to conscription came from Quebec. Nightly there were anti-conscription parades in Montreal and other Quebec cities, followed in some cases by riots and clashes with the police. The word conscription was used by some agitators to fan the flames of racial feeling, but only with partial success. When the future historian looks back at those rather exciting days in their proper perspective, l e will probably conclude that Quebec on the whole exercised good sense and restraint.

But what will Laurier do? The question was on everybody's lips. Would he side with Quebec or would he align himself with the Prime Minister and present a united front to the Hun? Not a sign or a word escaped from the old Liberal leader. Some astute political observers remarked, after hearing his words in appreciation of a speech delivered by the Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, in Ottawa late in May that Sir Wilfrid would support the draft. On that occasion, almost excelling himself in oratory Sir Wilfrid said: " You will report to the people of England, to the people of Europe, to the people of the whole world that we Canadians stand to-day prouder of the British allegiance than we were three years ago."

But the country did not have long to wait. On June 11th, the Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister


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