25 March 1915
I have sometimes in the past criticised militia expenditures and I have not much regret for having done so. The thing that has surprised me in the whole conduct of the war by the minister is the fact that we have been spending $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 on a permanent force annually and when trouble came the men who were really trained, if there were any in Canada, the men on whom a very large amount had been expended year by year, were not sent to the front, but were sent off to spend the winter in the beautiful climate of Bermuda. This is a remarkable thing and calls for explanation. I do not ask the minister to divulge any military secrets.
I am glad the hon. Member has brought this matter up, as it gives me an opportunity to meet certain charges, the only charges that have been make against me.
I am not making any charges.
I have been charged with being unfriendly to the permanent corps. What I have done is see that the permanent corps get no favour over the militia corps. We are all the active militia of Canada. But when the war broke out it was my desire that the Royal Canadian regiment [sic] should not go to the front as a unit but that some of the non-commissioned officers and certain of the officers of this corps should be distributed among the other regiments in order to give them the benefit of their training, because they are simply instructional corps. However, about this time the British Government – there is no harm in saying it – requested that we should send the Royal Canadian regiment to Bermuda and release the Lincolnshire regiment then garrisoning Bermuda. We got the order, we recruited the regiment up to full strength by the addition of 400 to 500 men, and in four days that regiment was sailing for Bermuda, a feat of which my officers are very proud. They are there yet. If the British Government want the at the front all they have to do is ask them to go to the front and I am sure the Government of Canada would be only too pleased to accede to the request. Fro time to time personally and against the judgment of the regularly trained officers of the department I have been endeavouring to pick out some of these good fellows from that regiment and send them with the other regiments; but the officers of the department think that the regiment should be kept intact as a body and that if they go to the front they should go as the Royal Canadian regiment.