War on the Home Front. Women’s Rights The Conscription Crisis The Election of 1917. The Struggle for Women’s Rights. Since women were doing so much for the war effort, they wanted a share in making decisions about the country.
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War on the Home Front Women’s Rights The Conscription Crisis The Election of 1917
The Struggle for Women’s Rights • Since women were doing so much for the war effort, they wanted a share in making decisions about the country. • Women who fought in the women’s right movement were called suffragists. • Women fought for the right to vote (suffrage), work for political equality to men, and equal opportunities in employment. • Nellie McClung was Canada’s leading suffragist at the time.
Conscription • Conscription: all able-bodied men would be required to join the army.
The war had dragged on much longer than everyone had expected. As a result, casualty numbers rose and volunteer enlistments dropped.
Because of these numbers… • Borden was convinced by military officials that the war could not be won without more reinforcements. • He asked parliament to pass the conscription bill.
A Country Divided • Talk of conscription caused much uproar and essentially divided the country, especially between English and French Canadians. • There was much protest in Quebec. • English-Canadian newspapers accused Quebec of not doing their part because they sent the fewest volunteers in proportion to its population.
Conscription is Law • In summer 1917, Borden passed the Military Service Bill making conscription law: • Military service was compulsory for all males between the ages of 20 and 45. Only men in vital wartime production jobs, those who were sick, or conscientious objectors (those for whom fighting was against their religion or other beliefs) did not have to join. • Conscientious objectors were also known as Pacifists: those against war based on religion. (Mennonites and Quakers who came to Canada to escape military service in their own countries and for religious freedom.)
Swaying the Vote • Two more bills were passed in winter of 1917, both to strengthen Borden’s position on conscription. • The Military Voters Act: allowed soldiers overseas to vote • The Wartime Elections Act: • gave the vote to female relatives of soldiers • took the vote away from people born in enemy countries or who spoke the language of an enemy country, and conscientious objectors.
The Election of 1917 • Borden and the union government won by an overwhelming majority. • 153 seats to 82 seats • In Quebec, however, Borden only received 3 seats to Laurier’s 62.
Did Conscription Work? • By 1918, only 45 000 conscripts reached the battlefield. • They was a huge divide in the country. • Many say that national unity was a high price to pay for 45 000 soldiers.