How Conscription Negatively Impacted Canadian Society

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Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared “I oppose conscription because in it has the seeds of discord and disunion”

(Newman, 94). Conscription is compulsory military service. It caused hatred, riots and protests that divided Canada

severely. It was the cause that tore the delicate balance between the French and English Canadian relationship. The

conservative party, who had first introduced conscription, still find it difficult to receive votes from Quebec, even after

50 years. (CBC, 14) Conscription was not justified as it negatively impacted not just Canadian society, it created

political problems and caused a severe division between Canada’s two linguistic groups.

Conscription negatively impacted Canadian society. This bill stripped away the freedom from Canadian

citizens, leaving them bitter and divided amongst themselves (Newman, 96). Sir Wilfrid Laurier warned that “If this

military bill is passed, we will face a cleavage which may rend and tear this Canada of ours down to the roots”

(Newman, 94). Conscription had surely made an enormous dent in society. Riots occurred in Quebec because of this

single issue. The Quebec citizens were absolutely outraged that they were forced to fight for “les Anglais”. Feeling

little attachment to both France and Britain, many did not want to participate in the war. They raided army registration

offices and shattered the windows of English-run shops. These protestors were met with armed police officers

(CBC,12). On Easter weekend, 4 unarmed civilians were killed and dozens injured because of the arrest of Joseph

Mercier, a young French Canadian citizen that was found without conscription papers. Adding to the negativity that

conscription brought on society, an additional lo...

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...nadian society, from creating political problems, from tearing apart the French and English Canadians, it was not

right. Although conscription was made to solve the problem of military personnel shortages, it created many more.

The issue unleashed a terrible storm upon Canadians. Only 24,000 conscripts saw action overseas. Some wonder if

conscription was worth the costly price – national discord.

Works Cited
Baldwin, Doug; Mahoney, Rick; Reed, Kevin; Quinlan, Don. The Canadian Challenge. Canada: Oxford-University Press, 2008.

Aitken, Bob; Eaton, Diane; Holland, Dick; Montgomery, John; Newman, Garfield; Riddoch, Sonia. Canada, A Nation Unfolding. Canada; Ryerson Limited, 2000.

“The Conscription Crisis” 2001. History CBC. 15 Dec 2009.
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