The War Measures Act & The Year of the Flood

Used during the two World Wars, the War Measures Act was also put into place in response to the October Crisis in 1970, which involved the kidnappings and murders of government officials. The War Measures Act involved the removal of civil liberties by the Cabinet.

I chose this piece of history because of its timing. During the 1970’s, Margaret Atwood would have been in her early 30’s and would have certainly taken note of these events. What struck me most about the War Measures Act, and why I found that it connected to Margaret Atwood’s writings, is that it has all the makings of a dystopia. A country in panic, a government becoming stronger, the loss of civil liberties… Classic dystopian themes. It’s very possible that Atwood used this as inspiration for her works of speculative fiction.

Although not exactly in the spotlight in the book, the government that rules in The Year of the Flood is obviously shown to be a very powerful and corrupt one. The CorpSeCorps can be compared to the Cabinet during the War Measures Act in the 1970’s, for they both are seen taking away the civil liberties of the citizens. Could Margaret Atwood have used this piece of her country’s history as inspiration for her novels?


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