Why is conscription a sensitive issue in Canada?
- TdotLv 610 years agoFavorite Answer
To understand why it was a sensitive issue in WWII, we need to go back to the WW I conscription crisis of 1917.
As a dominion, Canada entered the war by default when Britain declared war on Germany. While voluntary enlistment was high in English Canada, many in French Canada felt this wasn't their war to fight but Britain's. Many also felt their language/culture was not being respected if they did join. There were no French units for example, and instruction was only in English. The lower level of volunteers within the French Canadian community created ire with English Canadians.
The Conscription Crisis of 1917 effectively drove a wedge in English French relations that is still felt today.
During World War II, there were French units and these units were better accepted than during the first war. The controversy was actually centred at home. Given the wounds that were still healing from the 1917 crisis, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King ran an election campaign promising to limit overseas involvement in the war and pledging that there would be no conscription. This was one of the main reasons he was elected for another mandate.
It quickly became clear that conscription would be required for the overseas war. Mackenzie King held a plebiscite in 1942 to relieve him of his pledge and allow conscription. This was overwhelmingly approved by English Canada and strongly opposed by French Canada. This re-opened the wound between English and French Canada.
- KruncheeLv 410 years ago
Canada suffered immense casualties relative to its population during World War I with voluntary enlistment. When World War II came around, Canadians didn't want to foot an inordinate share of the butchers' bill again. There was and is a perception that the British Generals who commanded Canadian troops during both wars, were more careless with Imperial lives than those of British citizens. The same idea is prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. Despite this, Canadians again volunteered in large numbers for World War II.
Later, during the Vietnam War, American draft dodgers fled to Canada which did not have conscription, and where there was no extradition, if the accused person was suspected of an act which was not a crime in Canada. Canada had no conscription law at the time (still doesn't), so draft dodgers were not extradited to the USA to face trial for evading conscription. Still, because of Canadians' traditional support of their own military in times of war, draft dodgers from the USA were seen as outcasts rather than welcomed with open arms, by traditional Canadian society.
- Anonymous10 years ago
Conscription was not required in Canada during WWII because of the mass amounts of volunteers. Pretty much every able bodied man in Canada immediately joined the military on their own after Britain declared war on Germany. Americans did not want to go to war and needed to be drafted. Unlike today, in the 1930's America saw Britain as enemy number 1 while Canada was an extremely close British ally.
- phule_poetLv 510 years ago
I’m not bashing our northern friends but I’d think without conscription Canada’s army could be counted on one hand.
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- PoeLv 510 years ago
Too many Frenchies up there.