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Uncertainty before the Judge

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With the creation of an alternative service program, it seemed that uncertainty in the Mennonite community and the government had finally been resolved. As conscientious objectors soon learned, however, another obstacle lay in their path.


Even though alternative service was now an option, men who wished to claim CO status had to appear before a judge. This judge would decide whether this person was sincere in his beliefs. If yes, the judge would assign him to CO service. If no, the judge would deny him CO status and order him to report for military training. What was going through a young man's mind as he approached this hearing?


In Manitoba, the chief judge of COs was Judge Adamson; in Saskatchewan it was Judge Embury. Both these judges tried to convince potential COs to abandon their pacifism and join the army.  


Most of the hearings in Manitoba took place in Morden. This town in southern Manitoba was ideal. Not only was Judge Adamson originally from Morden, but the location was also central for many Mennonites.


The purpose of the meeting was to make sure that the CO was sincere in his beliefs. David Schellenberg remembers some of the questions the judge asked him


Why isn't Canada worth fighting for?

What would happen if everybody was a CO?

What would you do if the Japs took your farm?

Isn't Canada a good country?

Why did you leave Russia?

Do you like it here better than in Russia?

How long has your church been non-resistant? [MHC, 1015-13]


Schellenberg was able to answer these questions satisfactorily, and he was granted CO status.

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