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History: 1914-1929 ORIGINS, 19141929 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 19301939

War and Politics

In 1917, Robert Borden and his Conservative government decided to introduce military conscription, as fewer volunteers were signing up for service overseas. This policy became an election issue, and it split the federal Liberal Party led by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The conscription crisis compelled the government into an alliance with pro-conscription Liberals. Attention to social welfare issues, including the creation of a federal health department, was one of the conditions under which these former Liberals agreed to join a Union government led by Borden. After the Armistice, the Borden administration faced rising discontent as it attempted to reconstruct the Canadian economy and to prepare Canadian society to respond to twentieth-century social problems, such as post-war unemployment, support for the aged, medical care for veterans, and assistance for widows and children.

Photo: Robert Borden, Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/ PA-000880

Prime Minister Robert Borden visits a wounded soldier just before his Union government was formed in 1917. Medical care for veterans and the establishment of a federal health department were among the conditions of the alliance with former Liberals.
Library and Archives Canada, Department of National Defence, PA-000880

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010