M965.199.3292 | Out of Tune

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Drawing, cartoon
Out of Tune
John Collins
January 30, 1942, 20th century
Ink, crayon, graphite and opaque white on card
38.1 x 28.1 cm
Gift of Mr. John Collins - The Gazette
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , war (1452)
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Keys to History

A clause in the National Resources Mobilization Act limited compulsory military service to service in Canada. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 added to the pressure on the government to repeal the clause. Bowing to pressure from English Canada, King decided on a non-binding plebiscite. The plebiscite sought to release the government from its 1940 election promise not to introduce conscription for overseas service. Passage of the plebiscite would not mean immediate conscription but would allow the government to impose conscription if it should become necessary. The cartoonist evidently wished that the government would have acted more decisively.

  • What

    Conscription is the compulsory enlistment in the armed forces of people who are legally old enough for military service. A plebiscite is a direct vote by the people for or against a proposal, such as that for conscription. The cartoon shows British Prime Minister Churchill and United States president Roosevelt, who had already implemented conscription, singing from the "Victory Song Book" while Prime Minister King sings the plebiscite song Better not Rush into This - Let's Take a Vote.

  • Where

    A summer and fall of German victories in the U.S.S.R., and Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, increased pressure on the Canadian government to impose conscription.

  • When

    People from across Canada voted in the plebiscite on April 27, 1942.

  • Who

    Voters from outside of Quebec voted heavily in favour of the plebiscite, while 71.2% of voters in Quebec voted against it.