Conscription Crisis Research Paper

887 Words4 Pages
The Conscription Crisis of the Second World War occurred when Canadian Anglophones and Francophones disagreed on a pivotal topic: whether conscripts should be sent overseas. Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of citizens in the military, and views on the topic varied between provinces. Quebec, the home of French Canadians, was strongly opposed to the idea, whereas other provinces, which were English speaking, had a strong favour of conscription. The Conscription Crisis of World War II caused national division between Canadian Anglophones and Francophones. World War II broke out in September 1939. The following year the Canadian government adopted the National Resources Mobilization Act, which provided enlistment for home defence only.…show more content…
Prime Minister Mackenzie King decided to hold a referendum to release the government from its promise not to allow conscription. The purpose of the referendum was to vote on Bill 80, and if passed the bill would allow the government to begin conscription. King decided to hold this referendum in an effort to satisfy supporters, as there was an increased favour of conscription at this time. The Canadian Government passed Bill 80, “authorizing conscription for overseas service if it was deemed necessary” , and King gained satisfaction from supporters; however it was not without cost. Tensions were already rising between Canadian Anglophones and Francophones over the topic of Conscription. In the autumn of 1944, J.L. Ralston, the minister of national defence at the time, was convinced there was a need for overseas conscription for two reasons: firstly, there was an unexpectedly high amount of casualties on the front lines, and secondly, there was a large commitment of power to the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy, leaving the army short of recruits. King did not want to invoke Bill 80, he simply wanted to satisfy supporters, and so he replaced Ralston with General A.G.L. McNaughton, who did not support…show more content…
An overwhelming majority of Anglophones were on the “yes” side of the conscription campaign. Prime Minister Mackenzie King deepened this divide when he acknowledged the Anglophone ministers. It is unreasonable to say the change in policy was to “save the government”; there must be an underlying reason, and that reason was to gain support of the Anglophone community (the majority of Canadians). The Conservative Party increased its influence on citizens to grow a pro-conscription mentality among Anglophones, and in the referendum eighty percent of Anglophones voted “yes”. A Globe & Mail writer spoke about the pro-conscription mentality in September 1939, writing, “The unanimous opinion of all the young men whom I have spoken […] is that immediate conscription in Canada is essential. [T]his is the only fair & equitable basis of carrying a

More about Conscription Crisis Research Paper

Open Document