Conscription in Canada during World War 1

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PART 1: BRITISH COLUMBIAN WOMAN’S LETTER TO ROBERT BORDEN

“Am British Columbian lady and am writing this letter to express my concerns about the ongoing conscription of young men for overseas military services. I live in Toronto and am deeply concerned about the forceful enlisting of the military due to the failure of the voluntary military to raise enough numbers. My son is among those taken to take part in the war, and these have left me worried about the whereabouts of my son as well as his safety.

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Away from my son, the whole process is a violation of human rights. The military should be solely optional and by taking people to the military by force undermines human right. In my view, this strategy cannot be effective since some of those taken to the war field by force may be less committed and therefore your government may be doing itself more harm than good. My son received a letter to join the military camp last month. Since it was a government order, we couldn’t rest though I never wanted my son to join the military. Also, this was not the right time for him to join the military given that he was in school and yet to clear his college education. Am concerned about his education and how the government could just take young men forcibly into the line. The strategy is not a good one, and the government should abandon it. In my view, this is not the right strategy to raise enough numbers for the military in the ongoing war. The military act of 1917 is a violation of human rights and also what Canada stands for[footnoteRef:1]. This act has questionable military value, and it is likely to undermine military power. The debate over the conscription of young men to raise numbers in the military has divide Canadian people. It is evident that some French Canadians are supporting this policy while most of the English Canadians are opposed to the policy. This division in the country is likely to undermine the country’s harmony and thereby threat its stability. The enforcement of the said act violates the rights of the Canadians especially the farmers who are not willing to let their laboring sons join the military. Also, the policy is likely to sink the country into unrest as evident in the riots that broke out in Quebec, where the supporter of the war and the policy are lukewarm. [1: Cathcart, Jordan, Rebecca Macdonald, Allison McCartney, and Vince Shannon. “Grade 10 Canadian History since World War I, Academic (CHC2D) Resource Pack.” (2015).] It is not good for the government to ignore the consequences of the enlistment of young men to take part in the war. The conscription is a serious violation of personal freedom[footnoteRef:2].

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