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Canada's Independence After World War One

By funkykomadina Dec 12, 2013 1391 Words
Canada’s Independence Following World War One
Without the tragedies that occurred during World War One, Canada would not be the nation it is today. Following WW1, Canada was considered a major part of many of the battles especially Vimy Ridge, gaining Canada international respect. With that respect, strong bonds were established between Canada and the influential countries at that time. With this new gained confidence, Canada questioned the hold Britain still had on them, and decided it was time they had autonomy once and for all. Autonomy gained Canada international independence but it resulted in the decline of it’s international economy. In the course of World War One, Canada lost many soldiers during warfare but through those soldiers efforts, independence for Canada was found.

Although it cost Canada many lives, our participation in World War One earned Canada a reputation of being a strong, united, and efficient fighting force. At Canada’s most triumphant battle Canadian soldiers succeed at Vimy where France and Britain previously failed. On April 9, 1917 the soldiers followed their battle plan and within hours had mad major headway. On April 12th the Canadian soldiers had taken over Hill 145, they had gained more ground, captured more soldiers and artillery than any previous British force in all of World War One. But this victory came at a price. Canada lost 3500 men and 7000 were left injured. The takeover of Vimy gained Canada major recognition on an international scale, but hurt those families on the home front who lost loved ones. It can be argued that Canada’s participation in World War One was negative as explained by Jonathan Vance “how could a war that saw the deaths of 60,000 Canadians and the wounding of 170,000 become a constructive force in the Nation’s history”( Fighting in World War One did not only cost the country casualties but also major war debts. Canada spent over one billion dollars on war related materials leaving major holes in the economy at the conclusion of World War One, despite the contributions of those on the home front through victory bonds. Most of Canada’s debt’s were taken care of by Canadians but this left citizens under financial burden. Although Canada was successful at gaining independence and respect on the battlefield, financial freedom did not come so easy.

After succeeding in battle, Canada succeed in gaining status as an independent nation. Prime Minister Borden was such a firm believer in Canada as an independent nation he fought for Canada to get it’s own seat at the Paris Peace Conference rather than simply being represented by Britain. He was successful in his efforts. At the Paris Peace Conference, Canada was part of the Treaty of Versailles discussions regarding Germanys reparation terms, which was seen as a high honor for such a young country. Borden also got Canada involved in the newly forming League of Nations. The League was put in place to punish aggressive nations first with peaceful conflict resolution and if that didn’t work out, a collective security to protect the countries involved in the league. Being part of the League of Nations and having the seat of the Peace Conference showed just how much progress Canada made all on it’s own without the help of Britain. Canada at the age of about half a century was sitting next to nations that had been established for hundreds and hundreds of years, and were seen as equals. Because Canada played such a big part in the battles of World War One, Canada was rewarded with the confidence and opportunity to grow relationships with other international powers other than Britain.

The new Prime Minister Mackenzie King continued on the pathway to independence that Borden started at the conclusion of World War One. Prime Minister King realized the hold that Britain had on Canada politically following the 1925 election. Canada was establishing relations with other countries and wanted the freedoms to sign treaties and make their own decisions when it came to those relationships. Britain on the other hand was still trying to hold onto what they had. In 1922 the Chenak affair arose between Britain and Turkey. Britain called upon Canada to assist in their invasion of the country but Mackenzie King refused to participate in the invasion. This was seen as a strong message to Britain about Canada’s desire to decide on it’s own foreign policy and not just be a follower of Britain as they had been since their colonization. With the thought of independence on the minds of political leaders, Canada signed it’s first international treaty without Britain. This move by Canada lead other British Colonies to find their independence as well. Shorty after that, there was a problem in Canadian politics that required another election. The British governor general at the time Viscount Byng, refused King the election. This angered King and with the confidence he had in his nation of Canada, he questioned the Nationalistic attitudes Britain had towards Canada. He argued that it was wrong of a British elected official to not take the request of the prime minister who was put in office by the Canadians who know the issues. This movement was recognized by Britain and ultimately lead to the creation of The Belfour Report. Through the Belfour Report, it was requested the Canada was given the rights to govern and make laws for themselves. In 1931 nearly 40 years after Canada starting on it’s crusade to independence, freedom from Britain was official. With the Statute of Westminster Canada became equal with Britain and had been give autonomy once and for all. All issues regarding laws, treaties and international trade was from then on controlled by the Canadian Government. Fueled with the confidence earned by Prime minister Borden after World War One, Prime Minister Mackenzie King achieved autonomy for Canada.

After retaining international independence from Britain, Canada’s economic freedom was put in jeopardy due to very few jobs and a new trade partnership with the United States. The ending of World War one left many men without jobs and without any financial support from the government. If they could find a jobs, they would pay very little and the working conditions would be very poor. Employers took advantage of the desperate situation. All over Canada the fight to create unions to control workers rights was in full effect. Strikes were held all over Canada, the largest being in Winnipeg. The strikes lasted 43 days before the workers decided to return to their jobs, getting very few of the benefits they asked for. Following it’s liberation from Britain, Canada started to turn to it’s neighbor the US for trade. The US, in order to avoid having to pay high tariffs on importing and exporting goods, set up branch plants in Canada. Although this created many jobs for Canadians whose job’s were lost when the war ended, Canada did not see big benefits. At the time, branch plants may have been seen as a benefit to the Canadian economy because it created jobs, and the money made from those jobs was spent in Canada, but once those jobs were no longer in Canada, that money was not coming in. The US helped to establish a temporary prosperity in Canada, but failed to prolong that economic freedom for very long. Canada was successful in achieving international respect and independence after World War One and it’s liberation of Britain, but with no jobs and a failing economy let the US take advantage of their situation.

Canada deserved to be treated as equals with other world powers after the soldiers brave, stunning achievements in World War One. It was Canada’s time to break away from Britain and grow into it’s own. Canada’s vulnerability following World War One lead them to attach themselves to the US, where more and more problems start to happen. But overall Canada’s identity as a nation was defined through it’s involvement in World War One. Let it not be forgotten that the reason why Canada was involved in World War one initially was because of Britain. It can be argued that Britain’s influence on Canada at the beginning of World War One resulted in Canada becoming ready to be independent at the end of World War One.

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