The Minute Book
Friday, 9 September 2016

Starving the Militia
Topic: Canadian Militia

It is idle to suppose that we can do without a militia. No country, unfortunately, is independent of armed defenders. We do not require a large and menacing force, but a moderate and well-drilled force.

Starving the Militia

The Toronto Daily Mail, 19 March 1892

The colonel in command of the Guards at Ottawa has resigned because, it is understood, the Government declines to pay certain sums of money due to his regiment. This is not the first time the Guards have been left without a commander; nor is the resignation of the colonel on account of the indisposition of the Administration to do what is right financially at all a novelty. One of the peculiarities of the Militia Department is its failure to recognize at their true value the requirements and the merits of the force under its management. During the past decade the energies of the Bureau, through the influence of Sir Adolphe Caron, have been directed rather to the establishment of the permanent corps than to the encouragement of the volunteer soldiers. As a result there have been large expenditures upon the growing fixed establishment, and relatively small ones upon the outside regiments. The accounts for last year tell, in part, the story of monetary discrimination. No less a sum than $1,279,000 was spent under the head of militia. Of this amount a proportion was devoted to the payment of the staff, and the providing of clothing and equipment. The balance was divided between the permanent corps and the militia regiments. The former, including the Military College, received in all $527,902; whereas the latter was awarded $272,098 for the annual drill and $35,996 for drill instruction, or $308,094 in all. There is reason to believe that the Major-General, after making a thorough inspection of the organization, has reached the conclusion that too much money is spent in frills and not enough upon the main body of the militia. His first deliverance with regard to the force was not at all enthusiastic. On Thursday he took another slap at the system by observing that the artillery at least had not degenerated into a mere body for the purposes of parading or marching past; although it had suffered from faulty administration which had sent it into camp without proper equipment. What report the General will make in the forthcoming blue book on the state of the militia it is not difficult to foretell. He will no doubt complain of the general control, and of the equipment, and will demand an annual drill. Many of the commanders have long been in favour of the resort every year to camps of instruction. Nor is this in the slightest degree remarkable. The force necessarily changes. Men enter for three years and disappear at the end of the term. Should they enlist during the year in which there is no drill they will pass out of the militia with only one experience, and that very brief, of active military life. In some quarters the ordinary instruction is not prosecuted, and the consequence is that the militiaman has no more intimate knowledge of his arms or his duties than is gleaned during the period of encampment. For the militiamen it can be said that no more devoted soldiers can be found anywhere. All they require is encouragement in the performance of their duties; and it is certain that if they receive this they will render to the country an abundant return for the interest lavished upon them. It is idle to suppose that we can do without a militia. No country, unfortunately, is independent of armed defenders. We do not require a large and menacing force, but a moderate and well-drilled force. Let the Government provide this, and be reasonably liberal to the men who devote themselves to the service of their country, and militia duty will become a pleasure and the militia itself a source of pride—even to the General.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 August 2016 3:12 PM EDT

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