The War Situation in Canada
By Benjamin Apthorp Gould
[The Atlantic Monthly, October 1917]
Had the end of the war come within the time generally expected at its outset, there could have been no question as to the high place which Canada would have earned in history for brave, immediate, and effective performance of national duty. There was no hesitation in Parliament in accepting a share in the war and in acknowledging that all the British peoples must stand together. Even that element in the Dominion which holds most vigorously that the self-governing dominions ought to be represented in the councils of the Empire recognized that, as the Empire is in fact at present constituted, war declared by the British Parliament is war declared by the whole British Empire, and that Germany would not await the formal entry of the dominions into the war if it were possible to gain advantage by attacking them. Germany was in fact at once at war with Canada, and hence it was impossible that Canada should not be at war with Germany. The piping voices of the Nationalists in Quebec, led by Bourassa, were utterly drowned by the clamor of popular applause, and there was at least the appearance of greater unity in the country than at any time since Confederation.
This recognition that Canada was at war did not, however, in any way define the extent to which Canada should participate. Great Britain could not as a matter of right demand from Canada a single man or a single dollar; all that Canada has done and will do is entirely voluntary. This fact must always be kept clearly in view in considering Canada's title to fame for what has been accomplished.
The military response of Canada to the call to arms was instantaneous and inspiring. Existing militia regiments at once organized battalions, and the immortal "Princess Pats," made up of veteran soldiers, including many Americans as well as men who had fought in every recent war, was formed—formed to be again and again cut to pieces and practically destroyed, and again and again to rise like a phoenix from the drum-fire, to hurl itself with new men and new officers, but with the old indomitable spirit, again and again into the battle line.
The Minister of Militia, Colonel—later General Sir Sam—Hughes tore official red tape into tatters; he secured action even perhaps at the cost of efficiency; the first contingent, largely composed of the British-born, awake more than native Canadians, not only to the seriousness of war but to the necessity of victory, was organized and equipped as well as the unpreparedness of the nation would permit, and it sailed promptly from the great war-camp at Valcartier, most of its men, alas, to return no more.
It was, however, in 1914 that the government made the mistake to which in my opinion all its present difficulties are attributable. It was of course necessary at that time that the army should consist of volunteers. No one dreamed that the numbers of men needed from Canada would be high in the hundreds, rather than in the tens, of thousands. None saw that the effort required from Canada would be so great that it could be effectively performed only by allocating every human unit to its due position, whether in the army or the factory or the field. No one perceived that it was fundamentally necessary for the preservation of Canadian unity that the contributions to the strength of the army should be from every part of Canada in a proportion as just as possible. The government therefore was content to take the men who were easiest to get, and did not demand either that they should be geographically distributed or that each man should be examined, not only as to his military fitness, but also as to whether he could be of greater economic service in mufti or in khaki.
But, most serious of all, the government made the organization of volunteering voluntary. There was no uniform recruiting campaign directed from Ottawa, but at first the men came forward on their own initiative, and later the various recruiting leagues and associations sprang up spontaneously from the people and were effective and numerous according to the temper of the various localities.
The government in fact did little more than train and equip the men who offered themselves for service, and the spreading of the propaganda of Canadian duty was left unguided to the self-constituted activities of each community. The consequence of this was inevitably that, where the tradition of British deeds and British prowess was strongest, there most was done, and the meaning of the war was best understood; in those places where the need of patriotic inspiration and patriotic education was greatest, least was either attempted or accomplished.
The crux of the situation was of course the attitude of the French-speaking Canadians, and it may be well to point out why this attitude was different from that of the people of the English-speaking provinces. To many persons who have not analyzed the matter it is a cause of wonder that the Province of Quebec did not enter the war with double fervor, as British citizens and as a people rich in the blood of France, which at such sacrifice and so gloriously was upholding civilization. Many fail to see that there exists no such bond between the French-Canadians and France as ties the English-speaking provinces to the British Isles. The French-Canadian is rooted to the soil. He does not travel away from his place of birth, he lives his life within sight of the church-spire of his native village, he does not think or speak of France as home in the same way that Canadians of English, Scotch, or Irish ancestry think and speak of the British Isles as home. There is no constant tide of immigration from France to keep the French blood and the French spirit warm. It is only the extraordinary fertility of this blood on Canadian soil that has caused it to increase until it constitutes about one quarter of the people of Canada. Our French-Canadians not only have, almost without exception, been themselves born in Canada, but their grandfathers and their great-grandfathers also were Canadian-born; in fact they are the seventh and eighth generations of native sons who are to-day tilling the farms of Quebec. France is to them a myth, a story, a fable, a name, not a living fact with which they hold personal contact. Their ancestors did not even come from democratic France but from pre-revolutionary France. Moreover, there has come down to them a tradition of resentment against France because at the time Lower Canada came under the British flag the French monarchy was unwilling to pay the cost of repatriating those who wished to return, and these early settlers felt themselves deserted, sold, and delivered over to an alien people.
Nor is it possible to ignore the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Nowhere in the world are the people more religious or more devoted to this church than in the Province of Quebec, and the kindly and earnest, but often narrow-visioned and provincial, curés guide their parishioners, not only in things spiritual, but in the everyday affairs of life. The mass of the people, if not unlettered, are at least lacking in breadth of education, and instinctively turn to their priests to decide their outlook on every such public question as the national duty of Canada. To many of the priests France had before the war become anathema because of the disestablishment of the Church and the expulsion of the religious orders. Many priests and nuns expelled from France had come to Canada, and the natural bitterness felt by them was communicated to the French-Canadians, until by some this war was even regarded as the retribution of Heaven upon France because of her sacrilegious treatment of the Church.
The attitude of the higher clergy toward the war was in almost all cases correct, but frequently perfunctory. The people, however, have but slight contact with bishops and dignitaries; they look to their parish priests for guidance, and there is no question but that these priests were in the majority of cases strongly opposed to having the people of Quebec take up the burden of war. They had become largely tainted with the political heresies of Bourassa. They did not want to see their friends and neighbors go forth to danger and perhaps to death. They knew that service abroad in the army would tend to break their hold over those parishioners who returned. They saw that active participation in the war would entail financial burdens which would tend to diminish the revenues of the Church. They were opposed to anything which might lessen that racial multiplication by means of which they hope to see their people and their faith dominant in Canada. They entirely failed to understand the real meaning of the war; they could not see that freedom and civilization, not only abroad, but in their own province as well, were at stake; they did not appreciate, and to this hour do not realize, that the whole structure of the British Empire is in actual danger.
The relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada, particularly Ontario, were far from cordial. Nothing is dearer to a people than its native tongue, and rightly or wrongly Quebec believed that there was a conspiracy afoot against the French language, and that the desire to prohibit the use of French as the language of instruction in other Provinces might even ultimately lead to attacking its use in Quebec itself.
As a result of the controversy over bilingualism in the schools there had developed in Quebec a strong feeling of suspicion and resentment against the English-speaking provinces. Added to this, Bourassa had for fifteen years been preaching the dangers of 'Imperialism,' and Quebec failed to see that the vast majority of the people in the other provinces are just as much opposed to imperialism as is Quebec itself. She did not see that—at least so far as the self-governing dominions are concerned—the British Empire is not an empire at all, but a federation of commonwealths, and that nowhere would there be more earnest opposition to any real imperialism than among the liberty-loving people of English-speaking Canada.
And worst of all, there existed among certain small-minded politicians in the governing party a desire to 'put Quebec in wrong in the war.' The election of 1911 had been won by what is often spoken of as an 'unholy alliance' with the Nationalists in Quebec, together with a jingoistic flag-waving in the other provinces on the reciprocity issue. These politicians believed that, if that election could be won on a cry of loyalty which in fact had no foundation, much more could a future election be won on such a cry with a real basis for raising it. The Conservative Party could never hope to carry Quebec; if it could show Quebec unpatriotic, it might hope elsewhere to couple its own party name with the Union Jack and so sweep to victory. None of the really big men in the conservative Party would for an instant dream of descending to such depths, but I am convinced that the low cunning of some politicians saw in a Quebec unresponsive to the call of duty a prospect of future party advantage, and that they were willing to intensify the racial cleavage for their own selfish ends. It is only fair to add that they did not imagine that the need for men or the necessity for united effort would approximate what it has proved to be. It is evident, therefore, that in the Province of Quebec more than elsewhere there was immediate need of an active propaganda of Canada's place in the war. If a campaign of education had been at once started there and vigorously and continuously conducted, no such situation would have arisen as that which now confronts Canada. The French-Canadian may be just as brave and just as loyal as any other Canadian, but he does not see eye to eye with us, he does not understand the real meaning of the war as we do, he has not the British tradition of the necessity of victory, his scope of vision is more limited.
These differences could have been overcome by spirited and wise endeavor on the part of the government at the beginning; but this endeavor was lacking. Sir Sam Hughes has always been close to the Orange lodges of Ontario, and these lodges have often, in their opposition to the Church in Quebec, proved themselves more narrow than the Church itself. They have failed to recognize that an attack from without simply serves to cement the Church into a closer coherence, and that whatever reforms are needed in it must be instituted within it by education and by breaking down bigotry and parochialism among its members, and cannot be forcibly imposed upon it from without.
But Sir Sam Hughes would not and did not understand this, and his attitude toward the French-Canadians was entirely lacking in that sympathy which was essential to achieving success in Quebec for the voluntary system. His antagonism, or at any rate his failure to appreciate the heed of understanding the French-Canadian point of view, was shown in many ways, as by sending one of the few French-Canadian battalions, a battalion raised by Oliver Asselin, one of the founders of the Nationalist movement, to kick its heels for long and weary months at Bermuda instead of sending it to the firing-line. That there was no need to doubt the bravery of such a battalion was shown by the magnificent fortitude of the Twenty-Second battalion, all French-Canadians, at the battle of Courcelette, where it stood its ground and fought until there were no more men left to fight, and achieved a glory which is second to none. In like manner, it is impossible to comprehend his colossal blunder in sending a Methodist clergyman, who could not even speak French, as recruiting officer for the Montreal district, and in failing to appoint a French-speaking Catholic to recruit the whole Province of Quebec.
There was one man who could probably have changed the whole situation in Quebec, had he been granted an opportunity to do so. This was Major-General F. L. Lessard, a Roman-Catholic French-Canadian, a man who had the respect and confidence of all of Canada, who had served with distinction in the Boer War, and who was commonly regarded as the best soldier in Canada. Had the duty of arousing the French-Canadians to an appreciation of their place in this war been entrusted to him; had the raising of battalions from Quebec been at the beginning placed in his charge, I believe he would have swept through that province like a flame, and that the present racial and religious cleavage would never have occurred. But there existed a personal quarrel of long standing between him and Sir Sam, and the Minister of Militia kicked him upstairs into an innocuous inspector-generalship and effectually shelved him—a pettiness for which Sir Sam will never be forgiven. This spring, when Hughes was no longer minister, Lessard attempted to redeem his native Province of Quebec, but it was too late by two and a half years. Opinion, which in 1914 was plastic and ready to be moulded, had set firm and become hard to break; the demagogues and the self-seekers, the Bourassas, the Marcils, and the Lavergnes, had got in their work. The task which diplomacy and wisdom could have accomplished easily three years ago must to-day be done either by a long and difficult-process of education, or by a hand of iron and a rod of steel.
I said in opening that, if this war had not been drawn out to its seemingly interminable length, the place of Canada in the history of the struggle would have been assured. The conduct and bravery of the men at the front have been unsurpassed. They have shown, not only courage, but sagacity and inventiveness, that most useful quality of 'gumption' which flourishes on the American continent. They have been tried and have been found not wanting. They have written their names in letters which shall not be obliterated; they have helped to make history at the Second Ypres, at Festubert, at Givenchy, at Courcelette, at Vimy Ridge at Lens, and on a dozen other lesser occasions. No, if Canada weakens at the end, it will not be due to the men at the front, but to the men behind in Canada. On them now rests the responsibility as to whether we shall run the full race, or break down in the last lap.
We have been at war for over three years and we are weary. The strain has been great; the sacrifices have been terrible. We have given in blood and human suffering and the anguish of bereavement; we have given in gold and toil and effort. We need rest, and we want rest, but, if I know the spirit of Canada, we will not take rest until the war is ended and victory is achieved.
Up to now we have done well. We have enlisted about 400,000 men, equal, in proportion to 5,000,000 from the United States. If in striking the proportion we should omit both the French-Canadian population and the French-Canadian enlistments, it would be equal to 7,000,000 men from the United States. We have raised about a billion of dollars, which, on the basis of the wealth of the two nations, would be equivalent to some forty billions from the United States. We have produced huge quantities of munitions. We have kept up the production of our farms and our factories. But if we are to continue the full performance of our duty, it must from now on be under government direction and government compulsion.
We have said again and again that we were in this war to the last man and the last dollar. We have said this clearly and flatly; we have not qualified it by saying to the last voluntary man, to the last willing dollar. There are timid men and timid dollars; if we are to use them we must take them; it is not enough to invite them and say that they will be welcome.
The voluntary system has broken down and to all practical effect is dead. The wonder is, not that it has died, but that it lived so long and accomplished so much. The trickle of recruits which is still coming in is made up principally of those who are enlisting in non-combatant units, such as the forestry battalions, railroad battalions, army service corps, and the like, and of those of British birth who are coming here from the United States to enlist. Our soldiers at the front are crying out for reinforcements; our infantry 'needs men, men, men—and we have not men to send them.
We recognize now that the voluntary system was wrong from the beginning, that it is undemocratic and unjust. Thousands of men have gone who ought never to have been permitted to leave Canada because their services would have been of greater value at home. Thousands of others are still here who ought to have gone at the first call. We have killed off our bravest, our best, our most intelligent, our most patriotic first; we are keeping the weak and the unfit and the slackers. And not only are few left of those who could be induced under the voluntary system to enlist, but even these few must give up more than those who enlisted three years ago. The pay of the soldier has not changed, but the cost of living has almost doubled; and while this may not make much difference to the soldier himself, who has small need of money or opportunity to use it, it matters much to the dependents whom he leaves behind. The soldier's pay has not changed, but the wages he is giving up to enlist have increased enormously. The need for workers is such that the workingmen, from whom the bulk of every army must be recruited, are able to live on a better scale than ever before, and enlisting now means greater sacrifice than in the past.
There are four Canadian divisions at the front. A fifth division was formed, but was not put into the battle-line because there were not enough men to reinforce it. There are not enough men to reinforce these four divisions for more than a few months. They cannot get the rest that is due them because there are not men to relieve them, and each man has to do two men's work.
There are only two alternatives for Canada, and no amount of oratory or political manoeuvring will alter their finality: either Canada must get more men by conscription, or Canada must quit the war—gradually, perhaps, as one by one her divisions fade away, but none the less certainly: Quit or conscript—there is no other choice.
Sir Robert Borden, the Prime Minister, returned this spring from Europe with a full knowledge of the need there, and at once declared for conscription. Whatever may have been the shortcomings of himself or his government in the past—and there are few in either party who will deny that these shortcomings have been many—to-day he sees clearly and says firmly that Canada must not quit, and that therefore Canada must have conscription. He is so right that every liberty-loving Canadian must back him up in his stand.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the leader of the opposition, looking perhaps more to his native Province of Quebec than to the place of Canada in history, declares that Canada must stay in the war to the end, but on the voluntary system. This has now been proved to be an impossibility. It is a contradiction in terms. I do not believe that the voluntary system can anywhere in Canada be revived to furnish the necessary men; but even if it could be revived elsewhere it would' certainly fail again in Quebec. An attempt to employ it would therefore be an attempt to get the balance of the men required from Canada from that three quarters of the population which has already supplied all the Canadian effectives with the exception of some seven thousand French-Canadians. It would leave French-speaking Canada untouched to the end. Sir Wilfrid's declaration means that, if he is returned to power, conscription will not be enforced, and that Canada will have to quit the war for lack of men. Some of Sir Wilfrid's followers in Quebec are shouting, 'No more men, no more money,' and Sir Wilfrid lets them shout and does not repudiate them. However great a Canadian he has been in the past; however remarkable is the personal attachment which so many Canadians feel for him; however much his work in the past has made for the national unity we so sorely need the stand which he is now taking in his old age is so wrong that every liberty-loving Canadian must oppose him and all who acknowledge allegiance to him.
Meanwhile the yelping brood who call themselves Nationalists, but are really Provincialists or Parochialists, incited by their demagogues, are howling that Canada ought never to have gone into the war, that we are being enslaved by England, that this is England's war, not Canada's, that Sir Robert is a traitor to the people, and that they, who have not dared to fight for civilization, will fight to save themselves from conscription.
As I write, Sir Robert Borden's conscription act, to provide by selective draft one hundred thousand men, has just been passed by both Houses of Parliament. It had the support of all the Conservatives except a scattered few from Quebec, and of a considerable number of Liberals, who refused to follow their leader on this issue. It is very doubtful whether more than the establishment of the machinery to operate the draft can be effected before a general election.
The term of the present Parliament expired by limitation on October 7, 1916, but was extended for one year by an amendment to the British North America Act, which is in effect the Constitution of Canada, passed by the British Parliament upon a unanimous petition of the Canadian Parliament. Many persons have regarded with horror the prospect of an election during the war, and have earnestly sought to have the term of Parliament again extended. A resolution for such extension was introduced into the Canadian House of Commons and passed, but was opposed by a large number of the followers of Sir Wilfrid. This made an election inevitable, for no government can ask a constitutional amendment extending its own tenure of office unless all parties are practically unanimous in supporting it. Personally, although broadly I am in hearty accord with those who wish to avoid the pettiness of partisan strife during the war, I am inclined to think that an election is not only unavoidable but, under existing circumstances, advisable. Should conscription be enforced by a government holding office by virtue of an extension granted at Westminster, the people of Quebec Province would stand upon the bedrock of the Constitution and claim that they were justified in resisting compulsion because it was imposed by a Parliament without mandate from the people. Furthermore, an election, if conducted along the lines for which I hope, may be made of important educational value, and may even serve to dedicate the people anew to the war.
Should the election be on the old party lines, it is clear that there would be three groups in Parliament—the Conscription Conservatives, the Conscription Liberals, and the Anti-Conscription or Laurier Liberals, with whom must be counted the Nationalists. Sir Wilfrid may regard these last with horror and aversion and deny any sympathy or affiliation with them, but the cruel logic of facts shows that he has in effect struck his flag to them, and that they must be reckoned in his group or he in theirs. It is highly improbable that any one of these groups would have a sufficient majority to conduct a government, and a union of two of them would be necessary. The great danger is that after the bitterness of party strife it would be impossible for the two conscription groups of opposite party complexion to act together. In such case the two Liberal groups would have to unite, with the result that Quebec would rule Canada, and that Canada would be out of the war.
To avoid this I consider it of vital importance that a Union non-partisan government should be formed before election, and should seek the support of all the conscription elements, irrespective of whether they be Conservative or Liberal. Only in this way can the poison of party selfishness, prejudice, and hate be eliminated. Only in this way can we expect with reasonable probability to have a government returned which will keep Canada in the war until the end.
In order to promote such a Union government and to assure the enforcement of conscription, what is known as the 'Win-the-War' movement has been instituted and may have a decisive influence on the outcome. It is an endeavor to unite all Win-the-War elements in support of a single Win-the-War candidate in each constituency, to prevent any conscription candidate from running under the name of either of the old parties with the consequent party jealousies and distrust, and to effect the active cooperation of every patriotic association or organization in support of such candidate. Its platform urges that all contentious questions not pertaining to the war be postponed until after the war, and that the full strength of the country in men, money, and resources of every kind be devoted solely to winning the war. This movement started in Ontario and has great weight there; it seems now probable that it may also be an important factor in the Maritime Provinces and in British Columbia, and possibly in the Middle West as well.
The situation in the Middle West, in the three prairie provinces, is further complicated by a large population of foreign origin, many of them of Teutonic stock, as well as Slavs and Magyars from Eastern Europe. These elements are opposed to conscription, and have been further alarmed by what seem to me most unwise suggestions that citizens of enemy origin should be disenfranchised for the period of the war. Naturalized citizens are afraid, not only that their votes may be refused, but even that the titles to their lands may be forfeited, and the anti-conscriptionists are not slow to play upon these fears. Nevertheless, I am not without hope that a majority of those elected from these provinces will support conscription, and that the attempts of the politicians to play party politics with the destinies of Canada may be frustrated.
Moreover, there is a full determination that every soldier, whether overseas or in training-camp in Canada, shall have his vote counted. This vote will of course be practically unanimous in support of conscription, as will be the vote of the returned soldiers, of those who have sons or near relatives in the army, of the various patriotic associations, and of those who have been bereaved by the war. On the whole I am fairly confident of victory, if only the earnest elements in the country do not dissipate their forces by supporting various candidates, but unite on one conscriptionist in each constituency.
What will be the result of enforcing conscription? I pass over the question what would happen if an attempt were made to enforce it before an election, as this question now appears merely academic. Unless a conscription Parliament be returned, conscription will not be enforced. Therefore the only live question is what will result if conscription is put into operation by a government backed up by a conscription Parliament elected by the people with a full knowledge of the issue. As to this, I am decidedly optimistic—-much more optimistic than many who do not, I believe, understand the Quebec situation as well as I do.
Many are predicting that the enforcement of conscription will mean riot and bloodshed in Quebec. Riot and bloodshed there may perhaps be, but I am convinced that they will be sporadic, entirely unorganized, and of no grave import. The tales which have been passed from mouth to mouth of an armed and drilled Quebec, supplied with machine-guns and prepared and able to make strenuous and effective resistance, are the veriest moonshine. Nothing of the kind exists in Quebec; nothing of the kind will be allowed by Quebec itself to exist in Quebec.
The cool and influential men in Quebec understand the situation fully. They realize, not only that the other provinces must live with Quebec after the war, but that Quebec must live with the other provinces. Any talk of secession is nonsense, the vaporings of the utterly irresponsible. The mass of the people in Quebec are essentially law-abiding; indeed they have less initiative and are more accustomed to accept constituted authority, civil or religious, than are the people of the other provinces. One of the strongest tenets of their Church is that the law of the land must be obeyed, and there is no possibility of any direct conflict between the law of the land and the law of the Church. The priests may object to the law, may use all their influence to prevent its adoption, or urge its repeal, but they will neither wish nor dare to counsel open disobedience to it. Quebec may make a very wry face in accepting the law, but accept it Quebec must and will.
Most important of all, the real leaders in Quebec see as clearly as we, so that for her own sake Quebec cannot afford to stand out isolated and alone, accused of cowardice and tainted with disloyalty. Politics has been as the breath of life to Quebec, and there have been long periods of years when by the shrewd playing of politics the Quebec minority has in effect ruled Canada. Quebec will strive to accomplish this again, and will pull every string and work every artifice to bring it about. But if Quebec fails, there may be sulking, there may be dissatisfaction and grumbling, there may be scattered acts of violence and passive opposition, but there will not be revolution, there will not be organized armed resistance.
The cynic says that the priests and farmers will be exempted, and that if the priests and farmers are taken out, nothing much remains of French-speaking Quebec. There may be a grain of wisdom in what he says. It is also a fact that the conscription act will fall lightly on Quebec because it is there common for the young men to marry before they reach the draft age, and they will thus be outside of the class of unmarried men from which the bulk of the conscript army must be drawn.
To sum up, should the other provinces return a Parliament strongly committed to conscription, Quebec will accept the inevitable and there will be no grave trouble. Should the other provinces be seriously divided on the issue, there may be very dark days in store for Canada. The earnestness of those determined at any cost to support their fellows in the trenches is intense, and to my mind the danger of lawless violence by them if conscription fails is as great as the danger from Quebec if conscription is carried. Thousands of men, largely returned soldiers, will not tolerate that Canada shall not stay in the war to the end, and are almost fanatical in their support of conscription. The character of those who insist upon action by Canada is such that they will dare themselves to act; those who oppose action by Canada will hesitate to resort to action on their own account, and are likely to confine themselves to strenuous words and to avoid deeds of strenuousness.
Conditions may change greatly before the election, and before these words are in print, but I pin my chief hope to the conviction that English-speaking Canada will not allow itself to be dictated to by French-speaking Canada on an issue involving national honor, and that British blood will stand fast to the end and be in at the finish. Also, if Protestant Canada becomes convinced that a vote against conscription means a vote for the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant majority will declare for conscription. The politicians may put winning the election ahead of winning the war; the people will put winning the war ahead of winning a thousand elections. It is impossible to believe that Canada will fail to complete the structure of glorious achievement for which she has built such a noble foundation; but this structure cannot be completed except by conscription.
Above all, if Canada's part in the war be allowed to end now, Canada will be seriously disunited because one quarter of the people has not in effect taken any part in it. If all of Canada share in the war from now on, even if under compulsion, the prospect of real unitedness in the future will be vastly improved. Could she but realize it, Quebec for her own sake needs conscription far more than do the other provinces. Paradoxical as it may seem, the enforcement of conscription in Quebec in the same measure as in the other provinces may, through a common participation in a common burden, destroy forever whatever sense of being a conquered people may have existed in certain quarters and have been one of the causes of the tendency of the French-Canadians to hold themselves aloof from the rest of Canada, and to nurse their fancied wrongs. Standing side by side with his fellow Canadians under the shadow of death in battle, the French-Canadian will learn that in peace also he must stand firm side by side with his brothers of the other provinces.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013.
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THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald