Conscription Crisis

    Conscription Crisis in 1917 was a political and military crisis in Canada during World War 1. Canadian fought at Vimy Ridge and Passachendaele, about 125, 000 Canadian troops were wounded and killed.

   At the beginning of the war, Prime Minister, Robert Borden was a lawyer and politician had promised no obligation military service known as conscription ( compulsory service in the armed forces).

       In 1917 almost three years of fighting, a lot of Canadian Soldiers were dead and wounded mounted overseas. Voluntary enlistment by Canadian dropped as jobs became plentiful at home.
Prime Minister Borden had changed his mind on May 18, 1917, then he introduced the Military Service Act in Parliament, calling for concription of most able bodied men between ages of 25 and 45. Single men would be called up first.
Debate in Parliament

Prime Minister Borden maintaned :

     All citizen are liable to military service for defence of their country. and he conceive that the battle for Canadian Liberty isbeing fought today on the plains of France and Belgium.

Wilfrid Laurier ( The Leader of the Opposition ), argued differently :

      The law of the land.. declares that no man in Canada shall be subjected to compulsory military service except to repel invasions or for defence of Canada.

Henri Bourassa ( French-Canadian natinalist) added another point :

      All Canadians who want to fight conscription... must have the courage to say and repeat everywhere, “No conscription! No enlistment: Canada has done enough.”...What England needs most are not soldiers, but bread, meat and potatoes.

      On August 28, conscription became law and was followed by two days of violence in hundred and fifty policemen were called in to disperse the crowd, and four were wounded, along with two demonstrators.

      On January 1, 1918 the Unionist Government began to enforce the military Service Act. The Act caused 404.385 men to be responsible for Military Service from which 385,510 sought exemption. Almost all of these men were able to avoid service, even if they had supported conscription.

  "conscription crisis." cbc. 2001. cbc. 13 Feb 2009 <>.

  Bain, Colin M. "Making History: The story of Canada in the twentieth Century." prentice Hall. 1999. 17 Feb 2009

  Conscription definition :
Recruiting system that ranks the population (as a rule, men only) by age. Some categories were then eliminated and people who would normally be exempt from duty were forced into service. In Canada, conscription was established by vote in the House of Commons.

Anti-conscription protest in Montreal, May 24, 1917.