Conscription Crisis: act ii!

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Conscription Crisis: ACT II!
Conscription: The act of government forcing men to join the army as a soldier
William Lyon Mackenzie King was Canada’s PM at the end of the 30’s and in WWII. He was a stable and kind man, who liked to get his political “advice” from fortunetellers and crystal ball readers who “spoke with the dead!”

He faced many difficult decisions during the war, which once again divided French and English Canadians.

  1. As part of your campaign to get elected, you must address the conscription issue that plagued us in WWI! It looks like the English Canadians may want conscription to support England, but the French Canadians don’t want conscription at all!

What should your promise to Canada be?

    1. You will never have conscription!

    2. We should have conscription to help defeat the Nazis!

    3. We will have a small amount of conscription to satisfy both the English and French Canadians!

 King promised people to never have conscription, and that Canada would only ever send people who volunteered into the war.

  1. In 1940, you have passed a new law: it’s called the National Resources Mobilization Act. It is designed to help out with the war effort. What should it be about?

    1. We’ll conscript men to fight overseas in Europe: we must defeat the Nazis!

    2. We’ll never conscript Canadians, but we’ll conscript recent immigrants to the country.

    3. We’ll conscript Canadians, but only to fight here if Canada, IF the fighting ever comes here.

 King passed the National Resources Mobilization Act in 1940 that said we’ll conscript Canadians only if the fighting comes to Canada

  1. There’s lots of PRESSURE to send more men to the war! It will be difficult to keep your position and not send men, but going back on your promise may mean that you lose the next election! How do you get out of this bind?

    1. Be bold and stick to your promise: showing the people strength will get you votes!

    2. Have a mini vote among the people to see if they want to release you from your promise not to conscript. Including the people in decisions will get you votes!

    3. Conscript men now to go to Europe! Pleasing the English Canadians (the majority) will get you votes!

PLEBISCITE: A plebiscite is like a “vote” but you are not electing a leader; the government asks society a question to gauge public sentiment. King held a plebiscite to ask people to release him from his promise not to conscript!



English Canadians

French Canadians

Yes! We release you!



No! We don’t release you!



What would you do????
 King decided to have conscription for Europe! But he’d only enforce it if there was great need. His vague promise was: “Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.”
(Which part was to satisfy the English? Which part was to satisfy the French?)

  1. Despite the plebiscite results you still do not enforce conscription. Your Defense minister, J.L. Ralston, (in charge of the army) is fuming mad that you will not allow it! He wants to resign! Such a man quitting would make you look bad, and upset the English Canadians. But: there’s an old WWI hero you could hire to run the army instead: he’s popular and might get more men to join of their own free will. How can you make yourself look good?

    1. Temporarily Keep Ralston and accept his resignation when the time is right. Then put the WWI hero in his place and maybe get more recruits!

    2. Create a 1st in history: Have two men actually work together as the defence minister and try to get the best of both worlds!

    3. Let him go, who needs him anyways?

 King at first accepted Ralston’s letter to quit, but then persuaded him to stay. When it looked like he could get the WWI hero to be the defence minister, 2 years later, he THEN accepted the letter of resignation and made the WWI vet the minister!

E) General A.G.L. MCNAUGHTON has not drummed up the voluntary enlistment numbers you had anticipated. The army is desperately short of troops and public pressure to take action is mounting. What is your next step?

a) Continue to refuse conscription; you have managed to put it off this long.

b) Pray for the war to be over soon.

c) Befriend a leading Quebec cabinet minister, with this French connection in place, announce conscription.

With Lois St. Laurent’s co-operation, the Prime Minister announces that 16 000 conscripts will be sent overseas. This motion passes in the House of Commons by a majority vote of 143 to 70. There was some rioting in Quebec, but nowhere near the amount of violence seen in 1917. Mackenzie King had won a victory for unity.

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