Lt. Col. Lavergne

Lieutenant Colonel Armand Lavergne
61st (Montmagny) Rifles
Lavergne

As you already know, I am and have always been opposed to Canada taking part in the wars of the empire. I cannot assume the responsibility of asking Canadians to take part in a war that is not for the defense of Canada…

 Let me repeat that I consider it unwise and more than criminal to place Canada in danger from a war in which we have not had, have not and will have any control…

 (Lavergne to Sam Hughes, 6 November 1915)

Armand Lavergne had been Liberal MP for Montmagny (1904—1908) and, early in his political career, was a follower of Wilfrid Laurier. Born on 21 February 1880 in Arthabaska, Quebec, he was also rumored to be Laurier’s illegitimate son. In 1907, Lavergne broke with the Liberal Prime Minister and was expelled from the party caucus. A passionate defender of French language rights, he became lieutenant to Nationalist leader Henri Bourassa. From 1908 to 1916, Lavergne sat as a Ligue nationaliste canadienne member for Montmagny in the Quebec legislature.

Despite his Nationalist ties, Lavergne was active in the militia and a strong advocate of home defence. When the First World War broke out, he was the commanding officer of 61st  (Montmagny) Rifles. In 1915, Militia Minister Sam Hughes offered a commission in the CEF to command a French Canadian battalion but Lavergne steadfastly refused out of principle. He nevertheless conceded that as a solider he would obey his superior’s orders if compelled to fight. However, Hughes respected his friend’s conviction and even defended him in parliament.

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