Topic: Canadian Militia
Severe Arraignment of the Management of the Militia
St. John Daily Sun, St. John, New Brunswick, 1 July 1903
At the evening session [of the 9th Canadian Parliament] Mr. Thompson of Haldimand, on going into supply, spoke at length on the militia. He quoted the promise made by the ministers at the colonial conference to improve the forces. He declared that the rural militia, which constituted three-fifths of the whole force, was far worse off to day than two years ago, and if the decline continued in a few years the battalions would be demoralized. He credited this to the small pay, and urged that the allowance should be increased from 50 cents to a dollar a day. In the Ontario camp this year no battalion mustered more than 180 men out of 253. In the London district 1,248 men were in camp out of 3,611 men and this occurred everywhere. Old men and babies now made up the regiments. An increase in pay would involve an expenditure of $221,673 a year. This was less than the cost of the Halifax garrison, now disbanded, and the money could be devoted to the militia, generally. If there was not sufficient money to go around, the city militia's pay could be kept as it is and if this were done increase in expenditure would amount to $134,658. Mr. Thompson also put in a word for camp chaplains, who should be given accommodations and paid at least $2 per day. He warned the government that if the militia were called out too often for strikes ill effects would follow, and he urged that the permanent force be used on such occasions.
Mr. Thompson also advocated further assistance to rifle clubs and school cadets and advocated sending out organizers to work up an interest in rifle clubs.
Mr. Gourley spoke in favour of giving every encouragement to the militia. He was glad to see the conservatives were more generous in opposition towards the militia than the liberals were. He declared that Laurier by raising the cry of militaryism (sic) stamped himself a demagogue.
Hon. Mr. Borden said he could not take such comfort as Thompson out of the remarks made by ministers at the colonial conference. If Thompson had painted a true picture of the condition of the militia it was a most severe arraignment of the government. In 1896 $1,000,000 was voted for the militia, and now with $1,750,000 devoted to the service, it was a serious matter to find the force in such a disorganized state. The government should take immediate steps to supply a remedy. If increase in pay would do what was claimed for it every member would support it.
Mr. Bourassa thought that if the militia was as represented the numbers should be reduced. He would not consent to any increase in expenditure.
Mr. Clarke made a vigorous speech, in which he declared that Canada was not here on sufferance, and he would never consent to allow the defences of the country to drift to decay. He urged the department to take action to correct the abuses complained of.