Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier had to overcome several domestic concerns in order to approve Canada's involvement in the South African conflict. In the past, he had been reluctant to commit troops to imperial operations, but English-speaking Canada strongly supported Canadian involvement in South Africa. At the same time, Quebec was equally determined in its resistance to such a commitment. Henri Bourassa, the influential French-Canadian nationalist, led the opposition to Canadian involvement, objecting to the use of Canadian soldiers to satisfy British imperial ambitions. He claimed that the British stood to gain the vast mineral wealth of the Transvaal and Orange Free State from a victory in South Africa, while Canada would gain nothing.

Laurier fashioned a compromise solution that he hoped would be acceptable to both French and English Canadians. Canada would raise, equip, and transport a volunteer force, but the British government would assume full responsibility for the contingent once it had arrived in South Africa. For many English Canadians, Laurier's solution was insufficient, while many French Canadians continued to object to any Canadian involvement in the Boer War.


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