Patrice Dutil is a professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University, and the president of the Champlain Society. He is the author and editor of many books on various aspects of Canadian political history and public administration, including Macdonald at 200: New Reflections and Legacies (Dundurn). He lives in Toronto.
Embattled Nation explores Canada’s tumultuous wartime election of 1917 and the people and issues that made it a pivotal moment in Canadian history.
Embattled Nation explores the drama of Canada’s tumultuous wartime election. In 1917, after three troubled years of war, and fuelled by the perceived urgency of imposing conscription, Robert Borden formed a new Union government composed of Conservatives and Liberals who had lost patience with Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Laurier, still leader of the Liberals, fought his last campaign trying to convince Canadians that a vigorous war effort could still be pursued without conscription. The country was deeply divided, with French-Canadians horrified at the prospect of forced enlistment for overseas service and English-Canadians more determined than ever to see the war through to the very end. The stakes couldn’t have been higher.
With the parties — and the country — divided on the question of conscription, Canadians fought it out at the polls in a bitter and divisive campaign. Canada had not experienced such tensions in its fifty-year history, and has not since.
David MacKenzie is a professor of history at Ryerson University and the author of several books on Canadian history and international relations. He is also the editor of Canada and the First World War. He lives in Toronto.