From Brian Busby (ed.), Great Canadian Speeches: Words The Shaped A Nation (2008). Extract from a radio address to the nation by William Lyon Mackenzie King, April 7, 1942, in relation to a pending national plebiscite on conscription:
When those who hold representative and responsible positions have given a definite promise to the people, they have created an obligation to act in accordance with that promise, until the people are again consulted. Such an obligation may not be binding according to law, but as an obligation it is no less sacred.
…No change in circumstances could…justify a government in ignoring a specific pledge to the people, unless it was clear that the safety of the nation was immediately involved, and there was no possibility of consulting the people.
…there is a greater and more urgent reason why the restriction on the power of the government [to conscript men into military service] should be removed. And to this I ask your special attention. I have spoken of unity. To a nation, there is one thing even more important than the preservation of its unity. That is the preservation of its existence. To those who, beyond the events of today, are able to look into the future, it is no longer the unity, it is the very existence of our country as a free nation which they see is in danger today. We are no longer in a world where even the most powerful nation is able, by itself, to save itself from the ambition and greed of the aggressor nations. For the preservation of its very existence, each free country is going to need all the help that other free countries can give. It will require the utmost co-operation on the part of all free countries to save them from becoming victims, one by one, of the gangster nations whose undoubted aim is world conquest. With our immense territory, great resources and small population, no country may come to need the help of other countries more than our own. Unless we continue to do all we can to help others, we shall have no right to expect them to do all they can to help us…