The War Measures Act: Was It Necessary?

1295 words - 5 pages

“These men only ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.”- Abraham Lincoln. This quote fundamentally states that everyone wants fairness and the government should do what is in their power to give it to the people. On the contrary, the War Measures Act actually limits freedom and fairness. The War Measures Act is a law that gives the federal government comprehensive emergency power during a war, invasion or rebellion. It allowed the cabinet to do anything necessary for the “security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada” (Morton and Granatstein, 1989, p.7).The act severely limits the freedom of Canadians. It was used during World War One (1914), World War Two (1939) and the October Crisis (1970). It also has a negative effect on the esteem of Canada as it can be viewed as a hypocritical democratic nation, in which a model peacekeeping nation used a totalitarian force such as the War Measures Act. By unjustly punishing Canadians citizens, enforcing conscription as well as being used unnecessarily to address apprehended threats, the usage of the War Measures Act was neither fair nor necessary.
The unjust punishment of citizens that was allowed by the War Measures Act was iniquitous. When it was used in World War One, World War Two and the October Crisis, it led to the unjust punishment of Canadians by causing the internment of “enemy aliens” as well as the forced to registration with the government. In World War One, Canada had been in war with Germany, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine therefore immigration from there was suspended and people from there were considered “enemy aliens” and were interned. This meant that they had to register with the government and carry ID cards at all times. They also could not read or write anything other than English or French, leave the country or join movements the governments deemed unlawful. (Robert, 2001-2005). The Act allowed the government to make harsh, unfair and excessive measures. Also due to the reprimanding and internment of people from German, Slavic, Ukrainian descent in World War 1 innocent civilians were harmed. Secondly in World War Two the federal government required the, “mandatory registration of all persons of Japanese origin, regardless of citizenship, with Registrar of Enemy Aliens” (“World War 2 and War Measures Act”, 2011). As well as all Japanese vessels were impounded, all language newspapers banned and males’ ages 18-45 had to leave the western coast protected area. (“World War 2 and War Measures Act”, 2011). This demonstrates just as in World War 1 how people of German, Ukrainian and Slavic descent, the people of Japanese descent in World War 2 were treated harshly and many innocent civilians were harmed. Evidently, the act allowed the government to punish people and ruin their lives even though they may not have had anything to do with the war which makes the act unjust, unfair and cruel. The unjust...

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