Topic: Canadian Militia
The Militia; a Military Tammany (1884)
Sherbrooke Weekly Examiner, 31 October 1884
Every competent staff officer has the same story to tell—rusty rifles condemned; not repaired, still in use; and the ball goes on, the delusion is kept at full swing, while the politico-military organization exists on the shadow of a name.
The United Services Magazine dubs the active militia of Canada, a kind of military Tammany. Under the present organization, it says, the force can never be efficient. "In each military district there are two staff officers who are on permanent duty. Once a year these staff officers inspect the different corps, their arms and accoutrements, and from their annual report we find enough to convince us that the active militia of Canada is perhaps the worst officered, the worst drilled, and the worst equipped militia force of any pretensions in the world.
As a satire on military organizations it is a grand success. In such a force it may be assumed that discipline is lax; in fact, there is no discipline at all. Officers and men resign just when it pleases them. The authorities never object. They absent themselves from drill or other duty and no one minds. Fines are never imposed and court-martials are unknown. There is a little stoppage of pay is a man does not attend drill regularly during the twelve days annual training, but that is all. There is no extra fine, and as for the court-martial, such a thing was hardly ever heard of. If they are late for drill—and they nearly always are—they fall in the ranks as is nothing had ever happened. But perhaps the condition of the men's rifles is the worst feature of the many bad ones in the condition of the "active militia" in Canada. Every competent staff officer has the same story to tell—rusty rifles condemned; not repaired, still in use; and the ball goes on, the delusion is kept at full swing, while the politico-military organization exists on the shadow of a name.
The authorities at Ottawa do not want to hear of the militia being unfavourably criticized. The men who compose the force are quietly used for political purposes, or at least the authorities pass over the blemishes of their friends and the first consideration is the triumph of the party, and for that the militia and everything else must be made subservient. Few of the many ex-officers of the British army who reside in Canada will, except in staff capacity, have anything to do with them. They look upon them as "something for mirth, yea, for laughter." And yet this force costs the people of Canada about $750,000 per annum. Compared with the American system, the Canadian militia is proportionally more numerous.