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The Conscription Crisis: The Events that led to a National Crisis in 1917.

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Presentation on theme: "The Conscription Crisis: The Events that led to a National Crisis in 1917."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Conscription Crisis: The Events that led to a National Crisis in 1917

2 The Conscription Crisis (1917) in World War One Canada’s entry into the war Canada’s entry into the war The War Measures Act (1914) The War Measures Act (1914) Militia Act (1916) Militia Act (1916) Conscription Conscription War Voters Act War Voters Act Reaction in Quebec Reaction in Quebec Summary Summary Robert Borden VS Wilfred Laurier Quebec Premier Henri Bourassa

3 Canada’s Entry into WW1 World War One broke out in 1914 and, as an ally of Great Britain, Canada automatically found itself in the fray. Prime Minister Robert Borden declared that "when Great Britain is at war, Canada is at war, and there is no difference at all." World War One broke out in 1914 and, as an ally of Great Britain, Canada automatically found itself in the fray. Prime Minister Robert Borden declared that "when Great Britain is at war, Canada is at war, and there is no difference at all." Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden

4 Borden Introduces The War Measures Act (1914) The War Measures Act of 1914 provided that “the Governor in Council shall have the power to do and authorize such acts and things, and to make from time to time, such orders and regulations, as he may by reason of the existence of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, deem necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada.” The War Measures Act of 1914 provided that “the Governor in Council shall have the power to do and authorize such acts and things, and to make from time to time, such orders and regulations, as he may by reason of the existence of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, deem necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada.” Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden introduces the War Measures Act when Canada enters WW1

5 Canada Responds to Britain’s Call to Arms At the beginning of the war, Canada had a regular army of only 3110 men. However, within a mere two months, Canada could boast of an army of over 32,000 men as men flocked to recruiting stations to “fight for the empire”, and a chance to witness the experience of a lifetime. “We’ll be home by Christmas!” Answering the Call Off to War! Victory is Certain!

6 The Realities of War However, by 1916 the realities of the war had sunk in.1916 was disastrous for the Allies and the situation was becoming critical. The French and the British had suffered heavy casualties, mutinies were erupting within the French army, German submarines were wreaking havoc and the Russian allies were on the brink of being soundly defeated. However, by 1916 the realities of the war had sunk in.1916 was disastrous for the Allies and the situation was becoming critical. The French and the British had suffered heavy casualties, mutinies were erupting within the French army, German submarines were wreaking havoc and the Russian allies were on the brink of being soundly defeated. German U-Boats Allied POWs The Somme “Blood Bath” Typical Battle Conditions

7 By 1916 Canadian Troops Knew all About The Harsh Realities of War Cramped Conditions Fallen Soldiers Disease in the Trenches Poison Gas AttacksIntense Close CombatHigh Losses from Artillery

8 Canadians Were Answering the Call Approximately 312,000 men and officers had enlisted by the end of Approximately 312,000 men and officers had enlisted by the end of However, this amount was significantly less than Borden’s pledge to the British that he would provide over 500,000 for the war effort. However, this amount was significantly less than Borden’s pledge to the British that he would provide over 500,000 for the war effort.

9 We Need More Troops! On the front, Canadian officers were desperate for reinforcements to make up for their heavy losses; especially from the “Bloodbath” at the Battle of the Somme On the front, Canadian officers were desperate for reinforcements to make up for their heavy losses; especially from the “Bloodbath” at the Battle of the Somme Prime Minister Borden was determined to maintain Canada's participation in the War. Prime Minister Borden was determined to maintain Canada's participation in the War. For Borden, this was the only way for Canada to be considered equal to Great Britain, rather than a mere colony. For Borden, this was the only way for Canada to be considered equal to Great Britain, rather than a mere colony.

10 The News from the Trenches As the news from the trenches reaches Canadians back home, the number of Canadian men volunteering for the war effort drops. As the news from the trenches reaches Canadians back home, the number of Canadian men volunteering for the war effort drops. The Canadian Government tries to maintain enlistment levels through extensive propaganda campaigns The Canadian Government tries to maintain enlistment levels through extensive propaganda campaigns

11 War Propaganda Campaigns Do you think these Propaganda Campaigns were effective? Would they inspire you to “Answer the Call”?

12 Borden Responds with Conscription Despite extensive War Propaganda Campaigns Volunteers were becoming harder to find. Despite extensive War Propaganda Campaigns Volunteers were becoming harder to find. Prime Minister Borden was convinced of the importance of establishing a forced conscription system to compensate for Canada’s heavy losses. Prime Minister Borden was convinced of the importance of establishing a forced conscription system to compensate for Canada’s heavy losses. What is Conscription? What is Conscription?

13 Conscription Conscription: A recruiting system that ranks the population (as a rule, men only) by age. Some categories were then eliminated and people who would normally be exempt from duty were forced into service. In Canada, conscription was established by vote in the House of Commons. Conscription: A recruiting system that ranks the population (as a rule, men only) by age. Some categories were then eliminated and people who would normally be exempt from duty were forced into service. In Canada, conscription was established by vote in the House of Commons. When conscription becomes law, you must enlist, otherwise you go to jail. When conscription becomes law, you must enlist, otherwise you go to jail.

14 The Military Service Act In order to implement Conscription, Borden introduces the Military Service Act (1916) In order to implement Conscription, Borden introduces the Military Service Act (1916) Military Service Act Law adopted on August 29, 1917 to gather 100,000 men as reinforcements for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The law, which contained numerous exceptions, was applied erratically. Although 99,561 people were conscripted as a result of the law, only 24,100 soldiers actually fought at the front before the end of the war. Military Service Act Law adopted on August 29, 1917 to gather 100,000 men as reinforcements for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The law, which contained numerous exceptions, was applied erratically. Although 99,561 people were conscripted as a result of the law, only 24,100 soldiers actually fought at the front before the end of the war.

15 Extending the Vote In order to get the votes he needed, Borden passed two new acts: In order to get the votes he needed, Borden passed two new acts: Military Voters Act Law that extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Military Voters Act Law that extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. War-time Elections Act Law which extended the right to vote to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same time refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries. War-time Elections Act Law which extended the right to vote to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same time refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries. Pro Conscription Poster

16 Military Service Act (1917) In 1917, the government created a third piece of legislation that addressed conscription. The Military Service Act placed restrictions on who could be called upon for mandatory military service. Those exempted included farmers and farm labourers, who were needed to continue providing food in a time of shortage. In 1917, the government created a third piece of legislation that addressed conscription. The Military Service Act placed restrictions on who could be called upon for mandatory military service. Those exempted included farmers and farm labourers, who were needed to continue providing food in a time of shortage.

17 Exemptions to the Act Removed On April 20, 1918, an order- in-council was passed that removed exemptions outlined in the Military Service Act of 1917, leaving farming operations across the country short of labour and those who were called for service wondering if their rights had been maintained. On April 20, 1918, an order- in-council was passed that removed exemptions outlined in the Military Service Act of 1917, leaving farming operations across the country short of labour and those who were called for service wondering if their rights had been maintained.

18 Reaction to Conscription in Quebec The recruiting effort in Quebec had failed. The recruiting effort in Quebec had failed. Almost all French-Canadians opposed conscription since they felt that they had no particular loyalty to either Britain or France. Almost all French-Canadians opposed conscription since they felt that they had no particular loyalty to either Britain or France. When Conscription was introduced in the House of Commons, virtually every French-Canadian MP voted against it and virtually every English-Canadian MP voted for it. When Conscription was introduced in the House of Commons, virtually every French-Canadian MP voted against it and virtually every English-Canadian MP voted for it. Lead by Henri Bourassa they felt their only loyalty was to Canada. He felt that "Canada had no business in a blatantly imperialistic European war". Lead by Henri Bourassa they felt their only loyalty was to Canada. He felt that "Canada had no business in a blatantly imperialistic European war". Henri Bourassa

19 Wilfred Laurier Canada’s 7 th Prime Minister Canada’s 7 th Prime Minister ( ) ( ) Canada's first francophone prime minister Canada's first francophone prime minister Laurier had opposed conscription from the beginning of the war, arguing that an intense campaign for volunteers would produce enough troops. Laurier had opposed conscription from the beginning of the war, arguing that an intense campaign for volunteers would produce enough troops. He felt that if he joined the coalition with Borden and voted for Conscription that Quebec would fall under what he perceived as a dangerous nationalism of Bourassa and lead to Quebec Separatism. He felt that if he joined the coalition with Borden and voted for Conscription that Quebec would fall under what he perceived as a dangerous nationalism of Bourassa and lead to Quebec Separatism. Wilfred Laurier

20 1917 Canadian Election PM Borden called a federal election on the issue of Conscription in In order to get the votes he needed, Borden passed two new acts: PM Borden called a federal election on the issue of Conscription in In order to get the votes he needed, Borden passed two new acts: Military Voters Act Law that extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Military Voters Act Law that extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. War-time Elections Act Law which extended the right to vote to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same time refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries. War-time Elections Act Law which extended the right to vote to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same time refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries.

21 Election Results on Conscription Divide Canada The Union Government under Borden won the election with 153 Seats. The Union Government under Borden won the election with 153 Seats. Laurier’s Liberals won only 82 seats. Laurier’s Liberals won only 82 seats. 62 of Laurier’s seats were from the Province of Quebec. 62 of Laurier’s seats were from the Province of Quebec. Canada was completely “polarized” and divided with the English Canada in favour and French Canada opposed Canada was completely “polarized” and divided with the English Canada in favour and French Canada opposed Quebec’s Anti-Conscription stance Separated it from the Rest of Canada

22 Riots on the Streets of Quebec On Good Friday, 1918 a full- scale riot broke out in Quebec City. Angry Mobs attacked English Owned Businesses. Troops were brought in to restore order. Soldiers fired shots into the crowds killing four civilians. Henri Bourassa was disgusted with the Canadian Government referring to them as “The Prussians next door” (Germans next door) On Good Friday, 1918 a full- scale riot broke out in Quebec City. Angry Mobs attacked English Owned Businesses. Troops were brought in to restore order. Soldiers fired shots into the crowds killing four civilians. Henri Bourassa was disgusted with the Canadian Government referring to them as “The Prussians next door” (Germans next door) Riot Broke out in Quebec City

23 The End Result of Conscription The intended result of the Military Service Act was to provide the war effort with an extra 100,000 men (to reach the 500,000 mark that Borden had originally promised the Allied Forces). The intended result of the Military Service Act was to provide the war effort with an extra 100,000 men (to reach the 500,000 mark that Borden had originally promised the Allied Forces). However, when the war came to an un-expected halt on Nov 11 th, 1918, only 24,000 (25% of the conscripted men) had reached Europe. However, when the war came to an un-expected halt on Nov 11 th, 1918, only 24,000 (25% of the conscripted men) had reached Europe. If the war had continued, Conscription would have been a necessity. However, in the end, it’s real result was a serious blow to Canadian Unity (French-English Relations If the war had continued, Conscription would have been a necessity. However, in the end, it’s real result was a serious blow to Canadian Unity (French-English Relations Conscripted Troops arrive in Europe in 1918 when war ends


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