The Minute Book
Thursday, 1 October 2015

State of the Militia; 1888
Topic: Canadian Militia

State of the Militia; 1888

The Toronto Daily Mail, 15 December, 1888

To the Editor of The Mail

Sir,—The attempts made in certain quarters to defend the Minister of Militia only brings into greater prominence the general mismanagement of the whole department. If the militia is a necessity for the country, the Government is just as responsible for its condition as Sir Adolphe Caron. Assuming the policy of each department to be regulated upon some well understood basis or plan, submitted to and endorsed by Cabinet, and having certain definite aims and objects in view, then the present state of the militia goes to show that either the Government knows nothing and cares less about the militia, of that Sir Adolphe Caron is a wholly irresponsible minister. His policy, and therefore the policy of the Government, for the last five years has been to starve the militia, but stuff the schools. Those school of instruction or permanent corps (two batteries of artillery excepted) had no existence until 1883. All this time the cry for help and means to make the militia effective was raised in and presented to the Government from all quarters in Canada, and received the stereotyped reply:—"The Government would be delighted to do anything for the militia; but there was no money, and the spirit of the 'House' was against military appropriations, etc." But when Sir Adolphe discovered it was necessary to care for barracks and public buildings turned over by the Ordnance Department to Canada, and which for ten years and more had been allowed to lie in ruin and decay—lo! A change came over the spirit of the dream, and any amount was forthcoming. Sixty thousand dollars was expended at Toronto to make the New Fort fit for occupation; as much more at St. John's, Quebec; as much or more at Fredericton, New Brunswick; a school for cavalry at Quebec; another one for mounted infantry at Winnipeg, though what is it there for, with a thousand Mounted Police in the North-West, nobody knows but the Minister of Militia. London is the last example of Sir Adolphe's power, the Government's indifference, and of Mr. Carling's political necessities. There, too, a permanent corps has been established for the care of barracks and buildings which didn't exist at all, but whose example as a school hasn't saved the 7th Fusiliers from extinction. Money scarce! "There's millions in it" for the schools. Anything and everything for them. What is left for the other fellows? For the schools there is extra pay for extra duty, good conduct pay, increased in proportion to length of service; uniform, and pay for fitting it; boots, socks, shirts, underclothing, library, recreation-room, canteen, with beer, tobacco and necessaries at nearly cost price. All very good and very proper. No one grudges what they get, but why only for the schools? Are the men any better than the average militiaman, drill excepted; and Cut Knife Creek for example? They are too many for School purposes, but too few for fighting. Why then should the schools get all the favours and all the care and the real fighting force of the country get nothing? And how does it come that not a military man in Parliament, Colonel Denison excepted, ever raised his voice against the unfair discrimination? The painful contrast between the care bestowed upon the permanent corps and the shameful treatment received by the active militia is known to everyone inside and outside the service who takes any interest in the question, and may be briefly summarized by these two hard but undeniable facts:—First. That there is not a militia battalion in Canada ready or fit for active service. The city corps are drilled, but not equipped; the country corps are neither drilled nor equipped. Nor if wanted near home would they have a week, as at Fort Qu'Appelle, to learn how to load and fire their rifles. Second, That the Militia Department exists, not for the benefit of the country, not for the welfare and efficiency of the militia, but wholly and solely for the advantage of a politician and his personal and political gfriends.

Yours, etc.,

Western Ontario,
Dec. 10.

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