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Prehistory | 2 Worlds Meet | New France | England Arrives | Clash of Empires | Revolution | British America | Reform/Revolt | Responsible Government | Confederation | Nation Building | Laurier | The Great War | Roaring 20's | Great Depression | WWII | The Peace | Cold War | Trudeau | PC's in Power | Modern Canada

Golden Summer | European Powder Keg | Sarajavo | Canada Goes to War | Building an Army | Union Government | Nationalism | Women Get the Vote | Conscription Act | The Home Front | Victory | Aftermath

The Canadian Parliament had been extended by one year by agreement of both the liberals and Conservatives, in order to carry out the war plans of the nation but when Prime Borden returned to Canada from London in 1917 he was convinced that conscription would have to be introduced. Laurier understood the arguments behind conscription but also knew he could not support it. Borden invited him to join a Union Government which would carry out  the prosecution of the war on a united front.

Laurier struggled with the issues at hand and decided that not only could he not join a Union Government, but that he could also not support the extension of the current government. An election would have to be called and conscription, the single most decisive issue between English and French Canada, would be the only real issue. Even before the election was held, Laurier started to lose Liberal friend, colleagues and fellow MP's to the Borden coalition.  Laurier was tempted to resign and step down as leader of the Liberals but an emotional and fraternal tie to the rights of the French Canadians and their opposition toward being forced to serve in a foreign war that really had no effect upon them, keep him in the game, if not to win, then for his place in posterity.

Borden also passed a Bill which gave the vote to the mothers, wives and sisters of the soldiers in the armed forces as well as prohibiting immigrants from German and Austria who had been in Canada for less then 15 years from voting. Borden formed his Union Government without Laurier but with many Liberal Cabinet Ministers and MP's and called and election at the end of the year running as the leader of the Union Government. The election of December 1917 became a decisive and divisive event.

Borden captured 74 of Ontario's 82 seats, 55 of the west's 57 seats about twice as many seats in the Maritimes as Laurier and in Quebec Borden lost 62 of the 65 seats. The Union Government had taken in the Conservatives and Liberal from all across the country except in Quebec where it was virtually shut out. It would govern for the rest of the war and had created a split between English and French Canada that was to remerge again during World War 2.  

Although the Union Government lasted until July 1920, Borden's retirement from politics became the event which dissolved the movement and many members returned to the Liberal party of joined a new party known as the Progressives. The Conservative party would be saddled with the issue of forcing conscription onto Quebec and has never been able to really build it's strength up again in Quebec, except for a temporary coalition between Mulroney's Conservatives and French Canadian nationalists, in the 1980's.