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Conscription During World War I How Canada handled the problem of dwindling enlistments.

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Presentation on theme: "Conscription During World War I How Canada handled the problem of dwindling enlistments."— Presentation transcript:

1 Conscription During World War I How Canada handled the problem of dwindling enlistments

2 Conscription For the first three years of the war, the Canadian government relied on volunteers to fight At the start of the war, most able bodied men rushed to volunteer to fight so that they could have the opportunity to travel overseas

3 Why Fewer Enlisted From 1915-1917, Canadian soldiers gained a high reputation within their alliance for courage and bravery As a result, they were often chosen for the toughest and most dangerous assignments during battles

4 After Vimy Ridge In April 1917, Canadian soldiers had one of their greatest military victories of all time defeating the Germans at Vimy Ridge That month over 10,000 Canadian soldiers were killed in battle but only 5,000 new recruits enlisted The volunteer system was no longer bringing in enough people to sustain the war effort

5 PM Borden Breaks His Promise At the start of the war, Prime Minister Robert Borden made a promise to the Canadian people not to introduce conscription Conscription – a system to make able bodied men join the armed forces Because of the lack of recruits, Borden is forced to break that promise

6 Borden’s Plan In order to break his promise, Prime Minister Borden calls an election on the issue of conscription If he wins the election, he can prove that conscription is the ‘will of the Canadian people’ The election becomes one of the fiercest and angriest in the history of Canada

7 People Against Conscription French Canadians At the start of the war, many French Canadians volunteered to fight overseas Sam Hughes hated Roman Catholics (many Quebecois were Catholic) so he made their lives difficult in training for the war French soldiers were forced to train in English Borden Fired Hughes in 1916 but it was too late to gain favour in Quebec

8 People Against Conscription French Canadians French Canadians did not have the same ties to Europe and did not see it as their duty to protect Britain Most felt that it should be up to the individual person whether or not they decided to go to war

9 People Against Conscription Western Canadians Most people who settled in Western Canada came to Canada to escape from the European wars In some of their homelands, the governments could force men into the army They thought they had escaped that in Canada

10 People Against Conscription Farmers They felt their part of the war effort was to provide people with much-needed food Who will do the work if the men are at war?

11 What The Government Did Prime Minister Borden asked the Leader of the Opposition Wilfred Laurier to form a coalition or union government to present a unified front on conscription Laurier could not do this because even though he supported the war effort, he was against conscription Several Liberals joined the Conservatives to form the Unionist Party in favour of conscription

12 The Election of 1917 The Unionists won the Election of 1917 – 153 seats for the Unionist Party – 82 seats for the Liberals Only 20 of the 82 seats the Liberals won came from outside of Quebec The results did not reflect the Canadian population Had the votes of soldiers and their families been omitted from the polls, nearly half of the population voted against conscription


14 The Aftermath of Conscription This issue caused a lot of bad blood between French and English Canadians There were bloody riots in Quebec This caused a division that still exists in Canadian society

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