Competing Ideologies

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Competing Ideologies

Thursday May 9th 2013

Following Confederation in 1867 and into the turn of the century Canada was divided among three competing ideologies. The first being Imperialism, a belief favoured by English speaking Canadians and the Conservative government, that strong British ties held a better future for Canada. Within Imperialism, French-speaking Canadians who preferred Canada to be self-governing and bi-lingual nation within the British Empire favoured a Nationalist ideology. Continentalism was the third philosophy held mainly by Liberal English speaking rural Canadians, which recommended strong continental ties with the United States. The division caused by these competing ideologies is evident in 3 heavily debated events faced by Canada in the late 1800s: the South African war, the naval crisis and the reciprocity agreements with the United States.

The South African war was a conflict the British Empire faced in the 1899, when British expansionists clashed with the Boers. Unable to defeat the Boers guerilla warfare techniques, Britain was forced to seek support from its dominions. (Francis, Jones, Smith 116) Imperialists immediately supported Canadian participation in the war, seeing it as a way to show devotion to the British Empire. At the time the British Empire was the dominant world power and Imperialists predicted lending any support would greatly benefit Canada on an international level. French Canadian Nationalists strongly opposed any involvement in the war for two reasons: 1. French Canadians empathized with the Boers. 2. Nationalists saw any support as a step away from Canadian Autonomy. Many felt Britain would continue to expect Canadian aid in any future conflicts. (Francis, Jones, Smith 116) Wilfred Laurier, prime minister at the time, came up with a compromise to send 1000 volunteer Canadian troops that would be under British care and fight as British soldiers. The Imperialists felt not enough was done to show...
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