Socials DOL #4- Canadian Autonomy

As Japan continued to take over the north of China throughout the 1930s, tensions continued to rise and those tensions were what led to the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937. Japanese troops were eventually pulled out and people didn’t think it was a big of a deal, but what they didn’t know was that they were soon to be writing a new chapter in history called the Second Sino-Japanese War.

From July 7, 1937 to September 2, 1945, the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan fought a bloody battle called the Second Sino-Japanese War. Combatants of the war included: the Republic of China, the Empire of Japan, the United States of America, the Soviet Union, Manchukuo, Mengjiang, the Second United Front, the Nationalist government, the Mongolian People’s Republic, and the Reorganized National Government. The war informally came to an end on September 2, 1945 after the U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japanese troops in China a pull out. On April 28, 1952, the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, or the Treaty of Taipei, was created under the pressure of the U.S, formally marking an end to the war.

Historical Perspective

After the end of World War I, Canada and Japan established a friendship and Canada began strategically exporting minerals to Japan. As a result, from 1931 to 1941, the Canadian Prime Minister, decided to take a neutral stance regarding Japan’s intrusion in China. However, on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in response to the U.S. giving the Chinese oil and interfering with the war, which resulted in 2,402 fatalities and 1,282 injuries. To prevent Japan from continuing their way down south, not only did Canada provide munition to China, but they also sent troops along with Britain and other parts of the British Empire. Out of the 1,975 men sent, only 30% returned because “many of them were, at that time, deemed unfit for combat because of their lack of training” (Time). Yet, the question is, why would Canada send men who are undertrained to fight in real-life battles? Prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War, the inactivity of Canadian troops had become a political problem in Canada. As a result, according to the then Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, he mentions that “defense against aggression anywhere [is] defense of any country enjoying freedom today. For Canada to have troops in the Orient, fighting the battle of freedom, marks a new stage in our history” (Time). In order to deter Japanese troops, and become more active political leader outside of Canada, China was able to claim victory.

Continuity and Change

Even if the chances of coming back were very slim, even if the men sent were untrained, even if they were digging into their own grave, Canadian men still went. To this day, soldiers, and families of soldiers gather at the Sai Wan War Cemetery for the Canadian commemorative ceremony, honouring those who had fought in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Jeff Nankivell, a Canadian consul general in Hong Kong and Macau, describes it as “the ultimate sacrifices made by Canadian troops [which] helped to build the unique and strong bond between Canada and Hong Kong” (Time). However, not all of it victories and cheers. For those who were Japanese in Canada, an immigrant or Canadian born, 22000 of them were moved from the BC coast to the interior of the province. There, they were “forcibly relocated to camps […], had their property confiscated, and were seriously threatened with mass deportation to Japan. [Unfortunately,] all of this was done without proof of a single case of espionage or sabotage by a Japanese Canadian” (History of Rights). In short, relations with China improved; however, relations with Japan plunged.

Historical Significance

Canada is a free country. We have the right to speak up to the prime minister when a policy or a law doesn’t satisfy our values, we have the right to protest, and we have the right to riot. The Second Sino-Japanese War contributed to Canada’s political and social autonomy because, it was a fight for freedom. When Canadian troops were sent to China, they were sent in order to fight for Chinese self-determination. Although it wasn’t Canada’s own freedom they were fighting for, this still shows that when it comes to autonomy and independence, Canadians are willing to fight– even perhaps through aggression. For example, when Quebec announced to secede from Canada to preserve their French autonomy, Quebecers held numerous referendums to try and gain independence. The war also brought closer ties with China. In 1970, then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, was the first Western leader to recognize the People’s Republic of China. China is now Canada’s second largest trading partner, and Canada is China’s thirteenth. 



Document of Learning #3: Conscription and Kantian Philosophy

Upon hearing the British declaration to participate in the Great War, many Canadians volunteered to enlist in the army and help the British cause. It was a time of great hopes, hopes that Canada would finally be politically and participate independently on the international stage to support Mother Country. In a sense, there were almost romantic hopes about the war: A new national identity, Canada adored and used by the British Empire, Canadians returning with glory and pride on Canada’s contributions.

What was unpredicted by so many was the impact of the Industrial Revolution that insidiously crept on before the war began, changing warfare forever.  Soldiers were fighting a different war from the glorified classical warfares of the past. They were fighting a warfare of industrialization, of machine guns and muddy trenches, of mustard gas and barbed wires.  It was no longer a game of glory and heroism. There was nothing in the world that could be less romantic.

What a bloodbath… Hell cannot be this dreadful.

-Albert Verdun, a French soldier at Verdun, 1916

Soon, the Canadians realized the brutality of this war and volunteer enlistment plummetted to as low as 3882 per month. Meanwhile, Canada’s large participation at the battles of Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Somme, (and later Passchendaele), resulted in the deaths of over 130,000 Canadians. In order to continue Canada’s involvement in the war to the end, the Canadian Expeditionary Force needed more reinforcements.

Prime Minister Robert Borden, who had just returned from Europe, faced three options:

  1. Reduce the size of each division (four Canadian divisions in total)
  2. Dismiss one (or more) of the bands and redistribute men to strengthen the remaining division.
  3. Introduce conscription

After witnessing soldiers’ conditions in Europe, Borden concluded that conscription must be necessary, and pushed through with enormous difficulty the Military Service Act which conscripted eligible men between 20 -45  to war. On August  29, 1917, the Military Service Act passed Parliament and became law.

I believe the time has come when the authority of the state should be invoked to provide reinforcements necessary to sustain the gallant men at the front who have held the line for months, who have proved themselves more than a match for the best troops that the enemy could send against them, and who are fighting in France and Belgium that Canada may live in the future[…] I bring back to the people of Canada from these men a message that they need our help, that they need to be supported, that they need to be sustained, that reinforcements must be sent to them.

-Robert Borden speech before House of Commons, May 18, 1917

Immediately, the Military Service Act received strong oppositions from many parts of Canada. Of all the men between twenty to twenty-four who were called up, 94% applied for an exemption. Canadians possessed strongly different historical perspectives at the time, and these divisions in 1917 continue to haunt Canada today. The majority of English-speaking Canada supported the idea, while some Anglophones and almost all Francophones opposed the idea of conscription. Most English- Canadians supported conscription because they treated it as a way to support their serving relatives overseas. English Canadians were still heavily under the influences of Britain, and most wanted to show their support for Mother Country. They also felt that conscription would finally force Quebec to do its share. As early as 1916, complaints in English-speaking Canada were raised against Quebec’s lack of participation in the war. Farmers, however, opposed this Act, for their sons would be conscripted overseas instead of helping at farms.

Image credit to

As predicted, the province of Quebec was outrage by this Act and hosted many riots throughout the province. Laurier, who initially encouraged Canadian involvement in the war, was also angered by Borden’s movement. One-quarter of eligible men lived in Quebec, yet only 11% of the population applied to enlist(and we don’t know how many were actually French-speaking). The general French-Canadian perspective of the era lacked allegiance to England and believed that Canada was already too involved in the war. They also didn’t want to fight under the imperialistic ideals that Britain was fighting under. To an extent, the French-Canadians have far stronger social autonomy compared to the English, who still maintained cultural connections to Britain.

It has often been wondered why the people of Quebec have not volunteered in large numbers. I am sure that not one man in the province of Quebec has any relatives native of France… I think it maybe truthfully said on the other hand that there is not an English-speaking family in Canada which cannot claim relatives in Great Britain

-Wilfrid Laurier to the House of Commons, 1917

English- Canadians were also surprised that French-Canadians did not want to fight under the name of France. Why?

Let’ s review the settlement of New France and its defeat at the Battles of Plains fo Abraham 200 years. In the previous Document of Learning, which can be read here, we learned that New France (which colonized Canada before the English) was conquered by James Wolfe in 1759. From here, it’s safe to infer that Canada no longer attracted many French immigrants. Whereas French-Canadians were most likely descended from the New France colonies 200 years ago, many English- Canadians were recent immigrants from Britain thanks to the open-policies during the Laurier Era. French Canadians have long abandoned their allegiance under the French flag, but their cultural difference also prevented them to demonstrate strong feelings towards the English Crown.

With the general election looming near, Borden was concerned that his government would lose popularity (which they certainly did in Quebec), and that conscription would be cancelled if Laurier’s Liberals won the election. Robert Borden employed many strategies in order to manipulate the election, such as forming the Union government and establishing the Wartime Elections Act, which you can read more about on Sid’s Document of Learning. The tension between Laurier’s liberals and Borden’s Union government grew quickly, and soon enough Borden’s government launched a campaign condemning those who did not want conscription (slackers).

In this event, Robert Borden was attempting to achieve international and political autonomy for Canada on the world stage, demonstrating our powers for the first time as an independent force. The decisions of Borden’s government to control Acts without thorough processes of democratic negotiation is also a significant step towards political autonomy (representational democracy? It’s more likely than you think). However, the government’s decision to conscript the citizens to warfare is not only morally controversial but also detrimental to individual Canadian autonomy. Although conscription was proposed to support the Canadian cause and to strengthen national pride, the sad truth is that neither of the two goals was achieved.

After Borden’s sweeping victory in the elections, around 400,000 men registered. Of these men, only 100,000 were drafted, and within THIS number, only 24,132 were actually sent to the front lines before the war ended on November 11, 1918. This number is only 9% of all of the 250,000 Canadians who fought overseas, proving the bitter price of French-English division to be a rather futile one.

As discussed before, Canada’s national unity was heavily injured during the First World War. For most nations at the time, conscription inspired strong nationalism amongst the population and strengthened unity. War helped clearly define what was “them” and what was “us”.  For Canada, however, the issue of conscription brought long-lasting scars of division between English and French Canada. French-Canadians increasingly distrusted the English and believed that they treated unfairly by the mass English majority. The English Canadians thought that the French- Canadians were selfish and demanding. These feelings would never heal after the war.

The First World War was the first great test for this young nation to prove its internal and external resilience on such a world scale. It was also a time when Canada experienced scarring brutalities of warfare and drastic outcomes of industrialization. Such events sparked dilemmas of citizen autonomy in Canada and its value under national crisis. With the employment of the War Measures Act (established in 1914) and the Military Service Act, Canadians faced challenges to their liberty from their own government. Conscription meant that the nation’s values behind warfare were being imposed on the citizens, stripping away their right to choose whether this value was worth the risk of their lives. However, conscription also meant more support and higher chances of survival for those who did fight in the war. Without conscription, those who volunteered are essentially abandoned by the rest of Canada to fight with its shrinking divisions.

But when is it appropriate for the government to decide for its citizens the benefits of warfare?  If the government performs such actions under the name of nationalism, why would citizens of the nation object? Why are there deviations between individual Canadian’s autonomy and the Government’s autonomy? And to what extent is the government stray from national interest justifiable? Who defines nationalism? The government or the people?

The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that “A free will and a will under moral laws are one and the same”. Therefore, individual”freedom” and consequently, “autonomy”, in Kantian terms is equal to the autonomy of a moral government. The dispute seen during conscription crisis can be treated as an imbalance of these Kantian ideals; the conscription crisis either lacked morality in the government’s decision, or freedom on the individual’s part.

Through the Federal Election and Conscription, Canadians learned the fragility of autonomy, especially the ease in which disagreements between state (political) and individual (social) autonomy can cause significant damages to national unity.



Sources: /conscription-1917/

My Research about Vimy Ridge

Cause and Consequence: What were the causes and most important aspects of your chosen event related to guiding question? (5Ws)

Who: Canadian, English and French Soldiers, Focusing on Canadian Soldiers

What: Battle of Vimy Ridge

Where: Vimy Ridge, France

When: April 9-12, 1917

Why: To claim Vimy Ridge back from German forces

The most important aspect relating to the guided question that has to do with Vimy Ridge, would have to be becoming more socially autonomous.  After Vimy Ridge it really signified that Canada was a strong powerful force and this wasn’t just on the battle field.  Throughout all of Canada the victory and Vimy Ridge was a truly inspiring moment and something Canadians refer to, to show our endurance.  Not only did it signify we were a force to be reckoned with it, it also showed our tactics and battle strategy is through the roof.  Because of all of this it, Canada became more viewed as more autonomous.

Historical Perspective: How was your researched event viewed by Canadians at the time?  How do you know?

Although taking back Vimy Ridge was highly celebrated by Canadians and a lot of people felt pride over it.  There was a lot of Canadians who lost their loved ones because of their sacrifice for our country.  So while it was a time for celebration it was also a time for mourning.  Vimy Ridge will always be a reminder not only for our impact on the war but also for the ones we lost.

I learned all of this from this article Mr. Morris gave me.  I do not know how to insert it into this post so if you want to read it please ask him.

Continuity and Change: To what extent did this event or idea affect Canadian social, political, or economic norms and values?

It affected the societies values in Canadians the post but because of all the social impact it had on all Canadians it also affected politics.  It affected more of the political side of it when it came down to how we were going to remember all the Canadians that served in the war.  It was highly debated but because of the social impact it had they created a monument for Vimy Ridge.  This then affected the economy because you have to build it.  Due to this battle it affected a lot of the norms and values in Canada.

Historical Significance:  In what ways, specifically, did your event contribute to Canada’s social, political, or economic autonomy? Provide evidence from primary and secondary sourcing.

Due to this battle, Canada became more autonomous in most aspects of the guided question.  I already explained how Canada became more autonomous socially in the first question so please refer back to that.  I explained how Canada became more politically autonomous because of the decision of to when and where and what to build to commemorate the soldiers that served in Canada..  They Canadian government did this on their own accord.

Laurier and Trudeau

Similarities Differences
  • Liberals that became Prime Ministers after long conservative rule
  • Both Laurier and Trudeau believe in sunny ways.
  • Both tend to negotiate by listen to both sides of the story
  • Trudeau and Laurier try their best to protect the minorities and their rights in Canada
  • Both try to protect Canada’s identity as peacekeepers
  • Laurier tries to unite Canada under one single Identity while Trudeau believes more in post nationalism and the fact that Canada has any identities
  • Laurier try to protect Canada more from outside forces while Trudeau works on inside forces
  • Trudeau makes decisions on what he believes in while as Laurier makes decisions that compromise with everyone’s opinions

Sources: 1.4534679

Is Trudeau Laurier’s Successor?

Below is the link to my academic controversy T-chart.


Sources used:



The overlap between Laurier and Trudeau: Academic Controversy

Due to my full WordPress gallery storage, I have no choice but to screenshot my Venn Diagram and insert it into a Google Doc. I apologize for the inconvenience.

By the way, I found this really nice Flickr account by LibraryArchives Canada that has a lot of cool albums of Canadian history. I encourage you to take a look!


Is Trudeau Currently Positioned to be Laurier’s Successsor?

A T-Chart showing where Trudeau and Laurier’s policies dovetail and where they differ!


Liberal.Ca, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Canadian Federal Election, 1896”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2018,,_1896. Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Canadian Federal Election, 2015”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2018,,_2015. Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Justin Trudeau”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Sir Wilfrid Laurier – Canada’s 7Th Prime Minister – Library And Archives Canada”. Bac-Lac.Gc.Ca, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Trudeaumeter”. Trudeaumetre.Polimeter.Org, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Wilfrid Laurier”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

“Winners And Losers From First Federal Liberal Budget”. CP24, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

Bélanger, Réal. “Sir Wilfrid Laurier”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2018, Accessed 5 June 2018.

Sir Adam George Archibald

So I believe that we are allowed to do this D.O.L. in different styles.  I chose the one that I like the best, casual. (insert smiley face here)

These three reasons I have listed below are the main factors as to why Sir Adam George Archibald chose to side that Canada should confederate.  The first two had some impact to his decision but the last one was the huge one in his eyes.

Government should be lead by all of Canada.

Sir Archibald liked the fact that if Canada confederated that we would get to decide what went on in our country, how it was run, and how we could affect the outside world.

Trading Purposes.

One of the perks of living in Nova Scotia was that it was full of ships coming in and out to trade.  If Canada confederated the ships would be more regulated and then there would be a stable income for a lot of workers.  Archibald was a businessman and really exceled at the financial part of politics so this was right up in his alley.

Connecting The East to The West with a Railway.

I found this funny.  Before the CPR was proposed, Archibald actually was trying to persuade people to build a railway that connected the Maritimes together.  Needless to say it did not work out, yet when Macdonald came along with this Idea to connect the entire country, from sea to sea, with a railway, Archibald was all for it.  This was the one that really help him side with the confederates.  He was actually the only liberal in Nova Scotia that wanted Canada to confederate.

Well that is all for now until the big roleplay meeting.