Presentation on theme: "The Conscription Crisis in Canada During World War Two."— Presentation transcript:
The Conscription Crisis in Canada During World War Two
Background Information By 1943, volunteer rates had dramatically declined. As a result, the Canadian government was worried that Canada would not be able to maintain an effective armed forces. The Solution? You guessed it. Introduce Conscription!
Prime Minister King’s Solution Prime Minister MacKenzie King remembered his Canadian History. He knew that the conscription issue had divided French and English Canadians during World War One. In addition, he knew that a lot of his electoral success came from Quebeckers; specifically, French Canadians. What should he do?
King Introduces a Plebiscite on Conscription King’s famous line was “conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription!” A very good example of double talk! His idea was to hold a plebiscite on the issue. A plebiscite is a non-binding question that asks the electorate to vote on a particular issue. MacKenzie King votes in the National Plebiscite in 1942
King Introduces a Plebiscite on Conscription King’s reasoning was that a positive result on the plebiscite would give him a mandate to proceed with conscription. However, since it was a plebiscite he would not necessarily be forced to introduce conscription. Confusing? Clever? Many historians argue about the merits of King’s tactic. History Professor Michael Bliss thought it was a clever move U of T Professor Michael Bliss
The Result of the Plebiscite The Result of the Plebiscite on Conscription was: 73% of Quebec voted “non” 80% of the Rest of Canada voted “Yes”
What did King Do? King knew that the results of the Plebiscite could be just as damaging to national unity as the original conscription crisis of 1917 during World War One. As a result, he delayed enacting conscription until 1944. Since conscripted men had to be trained before they hit the battlefield, most of them never saw combat.
The End Result Of the 13,000 who were sent overseas, only 2,500 reached the battlefield. 69 would die in action before the war ended (less than a year later). MacKenzie King would go on to win a majority government in the federal election of 1945 with most of his support from “la belle province. He was the great compromiser
The internment of Japanese and Italians and Germans