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Conscription in Canada

Conscription is the compulsory enlistment or “call up” of citizens for military service. It is sometimes known as “the draft.” The federal government enacted conscription in both the First World War and the Second World War. Both instances created sharp divisions between English Canadians, who tended to support the practice, and French Canadians, who generally did not. Canada does not currently have mandatory military service. The Canadian Armed Forces are voluntary services.

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The 1969 Amendment and the (De)criminalization of Homosexuality

From the earliest days of colonization to 1969, sodomy laws made sex between men illegal in Canada. In addition, a law enacted in 1892 made “gross indecency” between men illegal. This included anything that indicated same-sex attraction, including simple touching, dancing and kissing. The law was extended to women in 1953. In 1969, however, sodomy and gross indecency laws were changed, making such acts legal under some circumstances. The parties involved had to be 21 years of age or older and conduct their affairs in private. Sodomy and gross indecency remained illegal outside of the home or if three or more individuals were involved or present. Thus, Canada’s Criminal Code continued to equate homosexuality with criminal behaviour under many circumstances.

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Commission of Inquiry on the Position of the French Language and on Language Rights in Québec (Gendron Commission)

The Commission of Inquiry on the Position of the French Language and on Language Rights in Québec (1969–1973) is a royal inquiry commission set up by the government under Jean-Jacques Bertrand. Noting the inequality between the English and French languages and the federal state’s hesitancy to take measures to encourage the independence and general development of the French Canadian population, the Gendron Commission elaborated a series of recommendations which led to the adoption of the Language Acts in 1974 and 1977 (see Quebec Language Policy).

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Collectivism

As the social evils of industrialization and urbanization unfolded in the later 19th century, many Canadians saw the basic problem as an excess of individualism.

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Quebec Film History: 1896 to 1969

This entry presents an overview of Quebec cinema, from its beginnings in the silent film era to the burgeoning of a distinctly Quebec cinema in the 1960s. It highlights the most important films, whether in terms of box office success or international acclaim, and covers both narrative features and documentaries. It also draws attention to an aspect of filmmaking that still has difficulty finding its place: women’s cinema.

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Media Bias in Canada

Bias means supporting or opposing something or someone in an unfair way, regardless of the evidence. Media bias is when information spread by media or a news outlet reflects the interests and biases of ownership or individuals of that media company. Corporations may have a clear bias for one political party or issue and may influence its media outlets to reflect that bias. Individual journalists or news outlets may favour one side of an issue and reflect that bias — consciously or unconsciously — in the way they cover stories. The fact that a majority of journalists in Canada are White can also lead to biased reporting on minority groups. People can overcome unconscious bias by thinking and talking about it, and especially by listening to people from less privileged backgrounds.

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Secularism in Quebec

The Quiet Revolution (1960–1970) gave rise to secularism within Quebec society. The latter became both secular by widening the separation between Church and State, as well as non-confessional by removing religion from institutions. 

However, the issue of secularism is still a matter for debate. In June 2019, the passage of the Act Respecting the Laicity of the State fueled many discussions about the place of religion in public domain.

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Canadian Foreign Relations

Throughout its history, Canada has taken a series of steps to develop from a British colony into an independent nation. Both the First and Second World War were turning points; Canada’s military sacrifices gave it the strength and confidence to demand its own voice on the world stage. In the postwar era, Canada maintained its role in both Western and global alliances. (See NATO; NORAD; GATT.) However, economics have shaped Canadian diplomacy to a remarkable extent. Because of the United States’ singular importance to Canadian security and trade, relations with the US have dominated Canada’s foreign policy since Confederation.

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Singh Case

In the 1985 Singh case (Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the legal guarantees of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to “everyone” physically present in Canada, including foreign asylum seekers. The court also found that refugees have the right to a full oral hearing of their claims before being either admitted into the country or deported. The decision drastically changed the way refugees are dealt with in Canada. (See also Canadian Refugee Policy.)

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Social Gospel

The Social Gospel is an attempt to apply Christianity to the collective ills of an industrializing society, and was a major force in Canadian religious, social and political life from the 1890s through the 1930s.

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Gavazzi Riots

The Gavazzi Riots were two major disturbances that occurred in Canada East in 1853. Alessandro Gavazzi, a former Catholic priest and Italian patriot, had embarked on a speaking tour of North America. He scheduled stops in Québec City and Montreal for June. Both of these events were violently disturbed by angry mobs. In each case, soldiers intervened to restore order. In Montreal, on 9 June 1853, soldiers opened fire on the mob that tried to stop Gavazzi’s speech. Ten were killed and many more were wounded. The riots were a major confrontation between the city’s Catholic and Protestant communities. The events highlighted a period of increased religious tension in Canada.

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United Farmers of Alberta

The United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) was founded in 1909. This organization advocated for rural co-operatives and for the needs and interests of farmers in Alberta (see Co-Operative Movement). The UFA became involved in politics and was provincially elected from 1921 to 1935. By 1939, the UFA ended its political activities, but it continued to support provincial farmers.

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French Canadian Nationalism

French Canadian nationalism concerns a wide variety of manifestations of the collective will of much of Canada's French-speaking population to live as a distinct cultural community. Its innumerable ramifications have been not only cultural but also political, economic and social.

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2012 Québec Student Strike

​In 2012, Québec and Canada experienced the longest student strike in their histories. The strike lasted several months (from 13 February to 7 September 2012) and pitted students in Québec against the provincial government on the issue of tuition fee increases.

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Alliance française in Canada

Since 1902, the Alliance Française has offered high-level French classes in Canada and developed cultural programming to boost the cultural influence of France and the Francophonie throughout the world. While it once had twenty committees scattered across Canada, today there remain nine, located in large cities outside Quebec. Each year, the Alliance Française receives 12,000 students in Canada and close to half a million worldwide. Its funding comes mainly from enrolment income from the classes it offers. The Alliance Française de Toronto is the largest in the country, with five branches established in the region.

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Ultramontanism

Ultramontanism was a school of thought of the Catholic Church which promoted supreme papal authority in matters of spirituality and governance. Ultramontanism rejected modern ideals in favour of the supremacy of Catholicism and the Catholic Church in public life. This school of thought was particularly influent in the French-Canadian society during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

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Welfare State

The welfare state in Canada is a multi-billion dollar system of government programs that transfer money and services to Canadians to deal with an array of societal needs.

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Patriation of the Constitution

In 1982, Canada fully broke from its colonial past and “patriated” its Constitution. It transferred the country’s highest law, the British North America Act (which was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867), from the authority of the British Parliament to Canada’s federal and provincial legislatures. The Constitution was also updated with a new amending formula and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These changes occurred after a fierce, 18-month political and legal struggle that dominated headlines and the agendas of every government in the country.