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WWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesWWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesMany Voices, Many StoriesMany Voices, Many StoriesThe Home FrontThe Home FrontCritical PerspectivesCritical PerspectivesSee Everything, Hear Everything
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See Everything, Hear Everything
Watch films, excerpts and view archival artefacts—all chosen by
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Excerpt (3:22)
Mackenzie King and the Conscription Crisis
1991, director: Erna Buffie
In 1944 the Canadian government finally implemented overseas...
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Excerpt (3:18)
Mackenzie King and the Conscription Crisis
1991, director: Erna Buffie
In 1940 Mackenzie King implemented a soft form of...
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Excerpt (3:20)
Mackenzie King and the Conscription Crisis
1991, director: Erna Buffie
The Government held a plebiscite in April 1942, asking...
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Mackenzie King and the Conscription Crisis
Excerpt  (3:22) 1991, director: Erna Buffie
Description The film
In 1944 the Canadian government finally implemented overseas conscription. About 13,000 "zombies," initially conscripted for home-front service only, were sent overseas, and 69 died in combat. Protests against the move were contained, and Mackenzie King averted a crisis like that of 1917. He was the only Western wartime leader to be re-elected after the war.

More info on this film in NFB catalogue »»


From the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, Mackenzie King tried to avoid conscription, lest civil war break out in Canada. Most English Canadians thought young men should be sent to fight. Most French Canadians vehemently disagreed. This same division had nearly torn the country apart during the First World War. Now a similar pressure was building. Should conscription be imposed? In spite of delaying tactics, King had to make a decision in the final year of the war. Mackenzie King and the Conscription Crisis combines archival footage with excerpts from The King Chronicles, a dramatic film series written and directed by Donald Brittain. Some scenes contain graphic language.