Sir Robert Borden
BORDEN, Sir Robert Laird (1854-1937), Canadian statesman, was born in Grand Pré, N.S. He studied law in Halifax and became a leading attorney in Nova Scotia. Elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1896 as a Conservative party member, he became leader of the Conservative opposition in 1901.
Borden became prime minister of Canada in 1911, and he revamped the government and its policies to meet the needs of the country's new industrial society. During World War I his ministry maintained vigorous Canadian support of the efforts of the Allies and obtained for members of the Commonwealth of Nations a voice in British policymaking.
Largely through his efforts, Canada secured independent membership in the League of Nations. In 1917 Borden sponsored the Military Service Act instituting conscription, which he considered necessary to the war effort. The measure was opposed by the French-Canadians and contributed to the growing antagonism between the French- and English-speaking Canadians. Borden formed a coalition government in 1917 and remained prime minister until ill health forced him to resign in 1920.
As prime minister Borden took part in the Imperial War Conference in London in 1917 and in the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He also represented Canada at the Washington Conference on naval disarmament in 1921-22.