The Pros And Cons Of Conscription

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Conscription is the enforced enlistment of citizens for military service. Conscription was used in both World War I and World War II creating a divide between the English and French Canadians. Majority of French Canadians did not agree with conscription in either war. They found that it would be both unnecessary and unsuccessful. In WWI many soldiers and politicians realized the war would not end quickly. People learned of the conditions in the trenches and number of casualties in Europe, which made the men stop volunteering. Out of the 400,000 Canadians who volunteered in the war less than one in twenty were French. The recruiting effort was failing and it seemed like the only unused option left was conscription. The tensions between the English …show more content…
Borden felt it was necessary and that it was his obligation to assist the men in the trenches, even though almost all French-speaking Members of Parliament opposed conscription and all English members supported it. Prime Minister Robert Borden declared that "when Great Britain is at war, Canada is at war, and there is no difference at all."3 French speaking Canadian’s continued to protest against it and the anger between the English and French grew. It bitterly divided them and doomed the Federal conservative party to spend majority of the twentieth century in disagreement. The conscription crisis of 1944 during WWII was similar to the one in 1917 but it was not as politically damaging. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was being pressured by the conservatives to bring in conscription. His famous quote was “not necessarily conscription but conscription if necessary.”4 Across Canada the vote for conscription was yes by sixty-three percent of Canadians, eighty-three percent being Canadian. The French still disagreed with it, especially in Quebec where there were anti-conscription groups. Conscription was invoked by King and conscripted soldiers known as “zombies” were sent over seas to fight. The second crisis just made the relations in Canada worse but to a less extent than in WWI. The conflict between the French and English Canadians lasted throughout the decades to come and created a lasting scar in Canada’s diverse …show more content…
The archbishop of Montreal, Monseigneur Bruchesi sent a warning to Prime Minister Borden, “Dear Sir Robert, Do you not think, in light of our population, that we have largely done our share? The people are agitated. In the province of Quebec we can expect deplorable revolts. Will this not end in bloodshed?”5 Robert Borden didn’t listen to the warnings, which led to two days of violence and rioting in Montreal. Tramway rails were ripped up and store windows smashed. One hundred and fifty policemen got called into settle the crowed; four were wounded and one was killed. This was still not the worst. In 1918 on Easter weekend a man was arrested at a bowling alley in Quebec City for not having his conscription registration papers. This event led to a crowd of protestors outside of the army sign up. They pitched files out in the snow and they smashed store windows owned by the English. On Easter Monday after the days of rioting soldiers were sent into Quebec City to stop the rioters but got rocks thrown at them instead. The French and English relationship was at its worst and the anger stayed in the minds of French Canadians for the years to

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