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Laurier was faced with a difficult situation in 1899 with opposing demands and expectations from French and English Canada as to how Canadian participation in South Africa would be handled. Laurier tried to please both segments of the country by passively supporting enthusiastic volunteers, while directing the Federal Government to take a backseat in the direction of those troops. The Canadian troops were however kept in all Canadian units albeit under British command. He also insisted on overall authority over the responsibility of the Canadian forces when he overrode Lord Minto and Chamberlains opposition to recalling the over enthusiastic General Hutton.

He also insisted that the commitment of Canadian troops in South Africa was in no way to be viewed as a precedent for future actions by Britain where Canadian participation might be expected. This assertment of control of Canadian foreign policy,  by Laurier, was a concrete first step towards full control of international relations by the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

The real battle for Laurier was in minimizing the attacks between radical French and English segments which could inflame the debate and lead to a large split in the political landscape in Canada. A Federal election was expected in 1900 and the Conservatives tried to create a campaign issue out of Laurier's lack of complete support for the war effort but most Canadian's felt that he had struck a good balance and in every province except Ontario, Laurier was able to increase his support in 1900 and won decisive re-election as Prime Minister. 

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