Unending Seige

Canada’s Participation in the War

The Political Scene Inside Canada

Canada was distant from the sense of total war felt across the European continent and the British Isles. Nothing here was preventing people from leading peaceful lives. Since 1912, Ontario had been debating the notorious Regulation 17 to dismiss French as a language of instruction in its separate schools, while at the same time, once war broke out, criticizing Quebec Francophones for refusing to fight for the Empire. The Quebec nationalists proclaimed their readiness to fight for the Franco-Ontarian victims of Regulation 17 instead of making an all-out effort overseas.

The pursuit of grand political objectives was not conducted without internal strife. To the Quebec nationalists, conflicts at home were more urgent than those on the battlefield. They asked why they should fight for France when a century and a half earlier France had negotiated away its interest in Quebec; they wondered if the war of 1870, less than half a century earlier, had meant anything at all.