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Acts Of Conscription Throughout Canadian History

1073 words - 5 pages

In the course of Canadian history, there have been many points where conscription seemed like a necessary evil. Throughout those events conscription has proven to have a negative influence on a country. Canada has repeatedly failed to execute conscription in a manner that would benefit the nation. In both WWI and WWII, conscription has caused political uproar, ethnical seperatism, as well as military weakness due to unwilling conscripts.

Canada over the years have made itself known with it’s aspect of military combat. It’s soldiers have proven themselves undoubtedly strong willed and the prowess of Canadians shown bright in the battlefields of WWI and WWII. However, the ...view middle of the document...

The public outrage from this caused the government even more disorientation, as in WWI conscription was an unprecedented problem, and therefore it was dealt with immense struggle. As has been noted, Canada’s military reaction to those who avoided conscription wasn’t fond in any sense, and the result of unwilling conscripts caused Canada troubles that they almost could not afford in a time where men and time were valuable.

The political scene in Canada during the two periods of history where conscription was induced, varied quite heavily. In WWI, where conscription was unprecedented, the political strain was highly tested. However in WWII, the political damage wasn’t nearly as bad. Robert Borden was PM during WWI, and was the one that issued the Military Services Act. Wilfrid Laurier, the opposition leader was convinced that the Act would tear Canada apart. He was a firm believe that enlistment had to be purely voluntary , and was hellbent in his opposition against Borden. Henri Bourassa spoke out for French Canadians as well, issuing warnings to Borden. In contrast to this, Borden heeded none of what they said and the act was passed. As a direct result, riots sprang up in Quebec, which strained the relationship between the Conservative party and the people of Quebec for a long time to come. In the Second World War, both Mackenzie King (the PM at the time) and his opposition agreed upon a “no conscription” policy anterior to the war. However as war ensued, King had to remove that pledge, and conscription was induced once again. This time around, King had a precedent and knew the consequences of his action and prevented sending conscripts to frontline service for as long as he could. King was so careful that the minister of national defense urged and supported sending troops overseas, and as a result was forced to resign. It was obvious that Quebec was resentful towards King’s actions, as a poll showed 75 percent of French-Canadians at the time opposed conscription. Canada’s use of conscription not only has created enormous amounts of tension between the parties in power and the opposition but also against Quebec as a whole. Even with one’s own government can be in...

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