Unionist Party In early 1917, during WORLD WAR I, recruitment for the CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE Dropped to a very low Degree. PM Sir Robert BORDEN, opposed to any reduction in Canada’s dedication to the war effort, announced on 18 May 1917 that the government would introduce CONSCRIPTION to Canada.
On May 25 he suggested to Liberal leader Sir Wilfrid Laurier the Liberals and Conservatives form a Coalition Government to execute the measure. After Laurier rejected the proposition on June 6, Borden attempted to strengthen his administration by bringing in-person Liberals and prominent political independents. His early attempts met with little success. In late-night, however, the Wartime Elections Act and the Military Voters’ Act seemed to increase the political prospects for a government supporting conscription.
These actions, together with strong pro-conscription opinion from the English media and personal convictions that overrode bash borders, made many Liberals and independents decide to accept Borden’s proposal. On October 12 Borden declared the formation of a Union government composed of 12 Conservatives, 9 Liberals or independents, and a labor representative. A general election in Dec 1917 gave the Unionists a massive majority.
Following its election victory, the Union authorities began to weaken. The close of the war in Nov 1918 ruined the reason for unionism in the minds of numerous adherents. Many Unionists returned to the Liberal Party or combined the new Progressive Party. Even though the Union government was a coalition of varied political pursuits, many Canadians of all non-British backgrounds blamed Borden and the Conservative Party for conscription.
The results of Unionist policies included a lasting Conservative weakness among French Canadians and many others of non-British descent – a weakness which contrasts with revived Liberal strength in French Canada under Laurier’s successor as Liberal leader, Mackenzie King.