Canadian Political History Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3255 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Military

World War I, known at the time as the Great War, was a major challenge to countries caught up in the conflict. The war involved a massive mobilization of manpower on a scale not seen before, and getting enough men into the military was a difficult proposition for many countries. Canada entered the war early with more than 30,000 volunteers in the army, forming the First Canadian Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In time, tensions developed between the English-speaking Canadians and the French-speaking Quebecois. The latter wer seen as not doing their part, and this belief was bound with a broader effort to ban French and destroy the French-speaking community in Canada. The issue would soon also be bound with a debate over conscription in 1917 as a way of filing the ranks of the army, a debate that would be heated and bitter and that would add to the divisions between the two communities.

World War I

The start of World War I affected Canada as a new Conservative government headed by Robert Laird Borden set out to rally the public to the British cause in the war. At the end of the previous term, Canadians had been divided on the issue, but Borden managed to bring them together after Germany invaded neutral Belgium. It was then that 33,000 Canadian soldiers reached England and fought at the second battle of Ypres. By 1916, there were four Canadian divisions, with a fifth available for reinforcements. Canada's participation served to bolster the nation's image in the world and contributed to the end of its colonial status.Download full
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Canadian Political History Assignment

Conscription was seen as the way to increase the enrollment of soldiers to provide the needed manpower. This was sought as a solution toward the end of the war. At the time, conscription would have unintended consequences on Francophones who had long been isolated from France and who volunteered to serve in far smaller numbers than their Anglophone compatriots. There were several reasons for this, "including the enforcement of a prewar education policy in Ontario that restricted education in the French language." Conscription also affected farmers as well. In that era, Canada had many family farms where young adult men were needed to help with the farm work. Before 1917, when there was a crucial election, the government exempted young farmers from the forthcoming draft; after the election, that decision was reversed:

The impact of this reversal was significant in the agricultural sector of the Ontario economy and the Canadian agrarian community in general and was partially responsible for a postwar agrarian political revolt.

A degree of national solidarity had been developing in Canada since 1896, and while this solidarity had been threatened by economic changes, it was a political change that ended it. The solidarity reached a high with the war, part of the enthusiasm brought about by wanting to participate. At the beginning of the war, voluntary enlistment was taken for granted, but voluntary enlistment would be seriously questioned when it did not produce the numbers desired. The number that did volunteer was an impressive percentage of the population. However, Sir Robert set a goal of half a million enlisted men at the beginning of 1916. he had spent sometime in England with the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917, and he returned to Canada in the spring of that year determined to introduce a conscription law to achieve his goal, and this law would be "at once the principal expression of the new wartime national unity and the chief cause of its disintegration."

Quebec

This region and the issue of its diversity has been much in the news in recent months because of the vote on whether or not Quebec would secede from Canada and become an independent entity, a vote that failed. Montreal is one of the major cities in the region and has a large French population. It was founded by Jacques Cartier in 1534, but the first French settlers did not arrive for about a century. Their intent was to evangelize the Indians, but instead they encountered conflict. The settlement would become the center of the fur trade, and the traders were followed by farmers and big landowners. They dreamed of a French Canada, but this failed when British forces defeated the French in 1759. The story of Montreal since that time is the story of the Canadian heartland. The city stood as new settlers, now the British, passed on their way west, and the city would become a center that served the west. This was also where the great port, industry, grain depots, leading banks, railroads, and insurance companies of Canada developed.

French Canada remains culturally distinct within British North America because it has maintained a defensive posture as far as any efforts at full assimilation. The diversity itself helped produce the kind of government Canada would have, for it was necessary to form a federation when efforts toward unification were undertaken and finally completed in 1867. Obviously, tensions between the French and the British populations have continued, leading to the recent vote. Language differences have been cited as important, but there is much more to the issue than this. Contention over the language has been used as a political issue in Canada again and again.

Canada came into being in 1867 through an act of the British Parliament creating the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. At the time, the country contained approximately four million people in four provinces -- Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Canada maintained British social and political institutions. Native populations were made wards of the federal government. Even as there has developed a recognition of the importance of aboriginal culture, problems with preserving language are noted. Patrick note the realization that language and language rights have a particular importance in mobilizing political and cultural movements, "uniting Indigenous activists and their communities in the twin goals of achieving 'nationhood' and cultural 'survival.'"

The differential view of Quebec extends back at least as far as the eighteenth century. On September 18, 1759, the French settlement of Quebec surrendered to the British, but the people never surrendered their roots. In 1763, the French signed the Treaty of Paris in which they gave up their claims to this New World. The British renamed the entire area of New France as the colony of Quebec and preceded to attempt to Anglicize its peoples. The attempt failed. The people of Quebec felt their culture, identity, and values were being usurped and worked all the harder to preserve them.

In order to keep a good relationship with these people, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774. This Act guaranteed French religious freedom, retained French civil law (in British law Catholics could not hold public office or sit on juries), adopted English criminal law, and expanded the colony's borders. (Grabowski 22).

In 1791, due in part to the inability of the British Protestants and the French Catholics to associate peacefully, Quebec was divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. While both areas were governed by British appointees, the French ways and organizations continued in Lower Canada, also known as Canada East, which is present-day Quebec. Upper Canada is now known as Ontario.

The people of Quebec were also involved in disputes over territory, such as that involving Labrador. As part of the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904, France gave up all claim to the region, though possession of Labrador was disputed by Quebec and Newfoundland until 1927, when the British privy council demarcated the western boundary, enlarged Labrador's land area, and confirmed Newfoundland's title to it.

Charles Taylor points out that Canada from the first has had a peculiar structure because of its dual language and dual cultures:

We could never be the standard state with a single clear identity. For a long time, this was felt as a grievous drawback by many people, such as among the British majority in earlier decades... Recently, some Canadians have woken up to the fact that what made their country an odd one out in the nineteenth century aligns it better with the conditions that every one is struggling with at this turn of the millennium.

For Quebec, the attraction has been to have a nation state, one that fully reflects the nation, "which we were cheated of through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by the refusal of binationalism."

Quebec not only has a sense of being different and of having the right to differential treatment, but the rest of Canada sees this the same way to a degree, meaning that they recognize that Quebec is different, that there are both historical and cultural reasons for this, and that these differences also contribute to tensions which flare up from time to time in threats of secession. This does not mean that other Canadians see Quebec as having any right to secede or to have a sovereignty beyond what other provinces have, but it does mean they fully understand what… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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