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Canada and the draft (was Rocket Richard)

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  • Lloyd Davis
    Ouch. Now here s a controversial topic. The question of whether there should be a draft was a very divisive one during both world wars. Both times, the country
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 1, 2000
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      Ouch. Now here's a controversial topic. The question of whether there
      should be a draft was a very divisive one during both world wars. Both
      times, the country was split along ethnic lines.

      Canada imposed a draft in 1917, and French Canada was very bitter. World
      War I was seen as a foreign war that Canada had no part in. There were even
      riots in Quebec.

      What deepened the divide was that English Canadians saw themselves as
      British subjects first and Canadians a distant second. The Union Jack was
      still on the flag. They were fiercely in favor of getting into the war.

      Things hadn't changed much in World War 2, except that the Liberals -- out
      of the two political parties, the one that had the most French-Canadian
      support -- was in power, and they didn't want to alienate Quebec. There had
      been considerable debate over whether to enter the war in the first place.

      The government held a referendum in April 1942, and Quebeckers voted 71
      percent against conscription, while the rest of Canada voted 70 percent in
      favor. So the government had the green light to hold a draft, but Prime
      Minister King still hesitated. "Conscription if necessary, but not
      necessarily conscription."

      By 1944 the Allies were so shorthanded that, very reluctantly, the
      government brought in a draft. Quebec was still bitterly opposed to
      conscription. I believe the mayor of Montreal, Camillien Houde, was jailed
      for discouraging Quebecois from registering.

      Lloyd

      >For the sake of the Americans on the list (and maybe even some Canadians) I
      >should mention that, during World War II, Canada's draft was somewhat
      >different from America's. Nobody could be drafted for overseas service (it
      >changed near the end of the war). Canada's huge military forces in Europe
      >were all-volunteer.
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