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Conscription: The Extinguisher of Democracy in Canada During Wwi

Autor:   •  July 25, 2017  •  1,439 Words (6 Pages)  •  209 Views

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and autonomy” (Thorner 155)? And glory in fighting a war for no other reason than defend a country which was as much a cause of WWI as its enemies? “All the nations of Europe are the victims of their own mistakes” (Thorner 150), but Canada, an independent country in North America, should have decided based on its national conditions, not that of Europe. “Canada’s front line was in Canada, not in France” (Morton 185). Not every Canadian wanted to join the war, the part of populations who wanted to sacrifice themselves were majorly new-comers from Europe, who still had deep feelings and connections for their home country instead of Canada. On the other hand, old immigrants and their offspring, especially French-Canadians, did not think that it was their duty to fight the war because they had stable jobs or happy families they wanted to keep. But the government ignored the thoughts of latter and chose the way of former. What Borden declared as the reasons why Canada would join the war was partial and for the most part refutable, what was even worse was that conscription forced people indiscriminately into this war that had almost no purpose for a lot of them (European ancestry seemed to be the only justified reason, but it was weak and not universally applicable) regardless of their beliefs and opinions, let alone the harm that the war would have done to those Canadian soldiers and their family. Therefore, the lack of a strong and justified purpose of fighting made the reasons why Canada joined the war hardly justified, and so was conscription.

The means through which Prime Minister Robert Borden won the 1917 election and started the conscription was hypocritical and unjustified. At the time of 1917 election, Canada was already in war, although voluntarily, men had been enlisted and were now fighting and dying. Their family members wanted more men to help them because of their own underlying desire for the victory of the war and more importantly, the survival of their family members. This had blinded them as to made them think that not only the more men Canada would send to fight the better, but also that every healthy Canadian man ought to fight. Therefore, extensive consent for conscription among women would follow inevitably. Borden cunningly seized this window of opportunity right before the election. It was not for the principles of democracy that Borden altered qualification to vote, but in order win him the election and ultimately, start conscription in Canada. Nor was this act advancing toward a true democracy, because if it was so, then why did Sir Borden put this forward right before the election and his plan for conscription, which would also strip the freedom of almost everything of a Canadian citizen, but not in any time earlier? Clearly he had made use of it for a purpose contrary to human beings’ innate and perpetual rights for life and freedom, the complete opposite of the principles of true democracy. Together with his emotional pleas, and the amount votes of soldiers offered in the front (with a little bit of falsification), Borden eventually won the election. In addition, when the Halifax explosion happened in December, Borden “cancelled his public meeting and election campaign in Maritimes and hurried to the distressed community” (Nicholson 346), full of the shadow of political pretense, in order to win him more votes. Democratic principles and values are not to be manipulated and altered freely according to one’s will, the seemingly free election in 1917 eliminated the true democracy in Canada through a hypocritical one, and was not justified at all. How could conscription be justified then, achieved with this foul and hypocritical means of Robert Borden?

Conscription in Canada was not justified, no matter how great a purpose it might have served. Ideologically, it violated human beings’ innate rights and freedom for life; Practically, Canada’s entrance of WWI was unjustified and unnecessary, and the means Borden used which won him the election and enabled him to start conscription was foul and hypocritical. Therefore, Conscription in Canada was fundamentally and incidentally unjustified, even though Canada might had benefited as a whole from the victory of Allies in the WWI under the help of conscription, since the true democracy that Canada had lost through conscription was much more important.


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