The Effects of French-English Relations on Canadian Politics

Essay by Rachel123High School, 10th gradeA-, January 2006

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Throughout the years the French, although a minority, have had a profound impact on Canadian politics and the law through their relationship with English Canadians. This will be evident after examining these four definitive events in Canadian history: conscription in World War One, the Parti Québécois, the Manitoba School Question, and the language law that made it compulsory for all English schools to teach French.

The Conscription Crisis occurred in January 1917. A law was passed that made it mandatory for any male between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to enlist in military service . The Prime Minister at the time, which was Robert Borden, passed this new law. However, approximately half of all Canadians were against the idea of conscription, fearing that they would be forced to go to war. The other fifty percent favored it because they already had family members overseas and figured that the more people that were sent over, the better chance the soldiers had to survive .

The Conscription Crisis had a detrimental effect on the already weak French-English relationship. This is because almost all of the votes for conscription were from English Canadians, whereas most of the votes against it were from the French . The prospect of participating in the war did not appeal to French Canadians, and as a result many riots took place in Quebec. As well, once conscription notices were sent out, the French simply refused to go. Of the 500 000 Canadians conscripted, only 20 000 ever saw action . Since so few people were willing to go, Borden's plan failed. In addition, the crisis altered Canadian's view of Borden, leaving Canada even more divided and distrustful of their government than they had been before. In fact, by the time Borden retired, his party had...