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CONSCRIPTION IN CANADA   97

people upon this question." He moved in amendment: "That further consideration of this Bill be deferred until the principle thereof has, by means of a referendum, been submitted to and approved by the electors of Canada." In moving this amendment Sir Wilfrid remarked:

"I do not intend—and I beg to make myself perfectly clear upon that—to bind any man of those who sit behind and around me and with whom I share the honour of representing Liberalism in this House. If there is ever to be a time when every man should think for himself, decide for himself and act for himself, it is the present. This moment is too solemn, the issue is too great, the questions involved in the measure are of too far-reaching importance to have them decided by any other voice than the voice of each man's individual conscience. I am very firm in the belief, I ant unshaken in it, that when the voice of every man has been heard, the aggregate will be the true voice, the right voice, and the right solution. At all events, it will have this effect, that it will be the final arbiter and it will put an end to the agitation which is now going on; it will bring about harmony, now much disturbed, and it will be a vindication of that spirit of democracy which we hope and believe must be the future social inspiration of the world."

Sir Wilfrid's plea was eloquent; but at once it was manifest that it did not strike a unanimously popular chord within his own party, as some of his followers did not applaud when he had finished, though most of the Quebec members were quite demonstrative in their enthusiasm. It was manifest that Sir Wilfrid would lose some of his support, and that he would win over to his side several of the Nationalist-Conservatives. For a while it looked as though the country would be divided at the Ottawa river, though fortunately no such division eventuated. Then began the memorable debate in the Commons, lasting till well past midsummer. Comparatively little time was taken up in discussing par-


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