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CONSCRIPTION IN CANADA   103

existing and well recognized in Canada at such date and to which he in good faith belongs; and if any of the grounds of such application be established, a certificate of exemption shall be granted to such man.

One section of the Act which had provoked consider-able hostility in the Parliamentary debates, but which subsequently had a salutary effect in its working out, related to resistance against the law. Any person "who by means of any written or printed communication, publication or article, or by any oral communication or by public speech or utterance" advised men to contravene the Act or "resist" or "impede" or "persuade" or "attempt to persuade" persons to resist would be liable to a fine of $500 or a year's imprisonment. Any news-paper or periodical carrying an article calculated to impede the Act was liable to suspension for the duration of the war. Thus in a few sentences much of the criticism of the Act was cut off. This section effectually closed off most of the agitation that would have been fomented in Quebec and doubtless prevented for the time being racial feeling from mounting high in that province.

When conscription was first intimated by Sir Robert Borden, prophets were not wanting who predicted civil war when the law took effect. In the autumn the tribunals quietly began business, but their work had been under public review only a brief period when it was seen that, owing to the number of officials engaged and the varying local conditions, a large number of inequalities had cropped up. In some districts men were allowed exemption on the slightest pretext, while in no district was any great severity exhibited. The overwhelming victory of the Union Government on December 17th, with its main plank the enforcement of conscription, showed unmistakably the temper of the country as a whole, but the same election, with practically a solid Quebec returned supporting Laurier, indicated the deter-mined opposition there, even though Sir Wilfrid had stated conscription was the law and should be obeyed.


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