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98   DAYS OF PREPARATION

ticular points, the members contenting themselves with the broad principles of conscription as applied to Canada. So far as the country was concerned, the chief interest seemed to lie in the number of Liberals who would part company with their chieftain, coupled with the Press rumours of a fusion or Union Government. Day by day the debate continued, lasting sometimes till long after midnight, and frequently English-speaking Liberals arose to state their inability to vote for the referendum and their determination to uphold the Government policy. The first of these was Hugh Guthrie (North Wellington), who bluntly announced that the Government would have his "whole-hearted support." Others rapidly followed, stating frankly that their leader, Laurier, had bidden them vote according to their consciences. These differences with their leader, they said, occasioned more than ordinary sorrow; but many Liberals coupled with their declarations for conscription strong appeals for national unity and for another determined trial for voluntary recruiting. Portions of the speeches in those notable days are worth preserving, showing as they did that patriotism was stronger than political ties. Excerpts follow from a few of the leading English-speaking Liberals :

F. F. Pardee (West Lambton), Chief Liberal Whip: "I have to disagree with many of my party and with my chief, but let me say I have thought so long and so earnestly over these matters that my conclusions are no longer opinions but convictions."

E. W. Nesbitt (North Oxford): "Voting according to my conscience, being left absolutely free to do so by my honoured leader, I shall support the Bill."

W. A. Buchanan (Medicine Hat) : "I believe that conscription is necessary. I have a duty to perform and I am prepared to perform it by declaring myself absolutely in favour of conscription. I am prepared to face my people on the stand I have taken and accept the consequences whatever they may be."


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