Canada favors overseas duty (4-28-42)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 28, 1942)

Québec dissents –
Canada favors overseas duty

Stricter draft approved by overwhelming vote

Ottawa, April 28 (UP) –
Every Canadian province, except Québec, voted overwhelmingly for conscription for overseas service in yesterday’s plebiscite, returns showed today.

Some provinces voted 5–1 to release the government of Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King from a 1940 pledge not to draft men to fight outside of Canada, and an incomplete tabulation showed that 2,239,560 voted “yes,” and 1,372,360 had voted “no.”

Québec, generally expected to disapprove, did so at a ratio of almost three to one. The “yes” vote was 371,015, the “no” vote 940,000. Opposition to conscription for overseas service had centered among the French of Québec, and opponents had precipitated several minor riots. Québec voted against conscription in World War I.

A simple majority was sufficient for a decision.

Mr. King said:

The vote means that the people generally recognize that the war has taken a course which is altogether unforeseen; that conditions wholly unexpected may yet arise, and that, in consequence, it is necessary to remove any restrictions upon the freedom of the government and parliament.

Under present Canadian law, men are drafted, but only for home service, and there was no indication that Mr. King planned early introduction of an enabling bill needed before there can be any conscription to overseas service.