- In 1917, Prime Minister Borden travelled to the frontlines in Europe to visit the soldiers. Here, he is informed that the war is expected to last until 1920.
- Like most British Canadians, Borden was committed to support the British Empire, and wanted to send more troops overseas to fight.
- PROBLEM: there were more casualties than there were enlistments. By the end of 1917, 64339 men enlisted to fight in the war, while 122946 were wounded or killed while fighting.
To get the troops needed, the Prime Minister decided that he needed to get recruits by using CONSCRIPTION – forcing all able-bodied men to join the army. The MILITARY SERVICE ACT was passed in 1917, making military service compulsory for men between the ages of 20 and 45. Borden was up for re-election in December, and conscription became the hot issue of the election.
The December 1917 election divided more people more than any other election in our national history. A vote against it was a vote for the Kaiser (Germany), while a vote for it was a vote for the continuing destruction of French civilization in North America.
Was it all really worth it? Well, under the Military Service Act of 1917:
- Approx. 400000 men were given draft notices;
- Approx. 300000 men were granted exemptions (for family situation, health, age, etc.);
- Approx. 100000 men were forced to join the military;
- Approx. 25000 actually went overseas.