World War One Conscription

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade August 2001

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Conscription during World War One was a negative event. Canada was split into two groups, and people were forced into becoming involved in a war they may not have believed in. However, the most valid argument is that conscription did not prove to be a useful idea.

With French Canadians and English Canadians already in a feud, conscription simply heightened the barrier between them. Forcing French Canadians to fight a war for an empire they felt they owed nothing to, simply placed them one step back from reaching trust and acceptance of each other. Also, the already nonexistent bond between French Canadians and Britain grew weaker by the day after conscription was passed. Furthermore, aside from French Canadians, Pacifists and other groups were forced to fight a war they did not wish to as well.

No one could refuse conscription without being labeled a "˜Conscientious Objector'. People who were morally opposed to fighting in the war (i.e.

Pacifists) were given this name that may as well have read: TRAITOR. French Canadians could not refuse to fight either. Though the reason is different, the problem still occurs, and it wasn't fair. Moreover, not all people were granted honourable pardons, though they had logical reasons not to take part in the war. Only reasons concerning health, the running of the country and losing vast sums of money allowed a man remain at home without the shame of the tag "˜Conscientious Objector' over his head.

Most importantly, conscription did not prove to be a valid tactic. Over 400 000 Canadians were drafted by means of conscription but a large majority of them tried to be excused. Many just did not attend to the recruitment offices. Of the thousands that actually accepted the responsibility, a mere 24 000 fought at the front.