Topic: Canadian Army
The Military Estimates 1921
Debates of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada, Vol. CXLVIII, 1921
Charles Gavan Power, MC, PC
Liberal, Quebec South
Major General William Antrobus Griesbach, CB, CMG, DSO
Unionist, Edmonton West
John Wesley Edwards, PC
Minister, Department of Health and Minister of Immigration and Colonization
Fred Langton Davis
Permanent Force, $6,255,000
Mr. Power: Before this item carries I should like to have obtained considerable information from the minister, but the time before six o'clock is too short. To bring the matter to a head, I move for the reduction of this Estimate by the sum of $2,000,000. In support of this reduction I argue as follows: We are asking for this large amount of $6,255,000 to maintain a Permanent Force, that is, a force of men who could all the year round be in uniform and be trained for warlike purposes. The force amounts in all to 3,800 men. The amount required to pay them at $1.75 per day—in contraindication to the $1.10 which the private soldier was paid during the war—would be $2,249,000.
Mr. Griesbach: What about the officers?
Mr. Power: I am coming to those in a moment. To board those soldiers would require something like $1,000,000, so that we would have to set apart about $3,500,000 for their pay and board. Now I come to the officers. We would have over $2,000,000 left to pay the officers. We have already paid nineteen generals and twenty-five or thirty colonels $265,000, and we are told that their duty consists in looking after this force. I fail to see why we should be called upon to pay an extra $2,000,000 to them. But, lest I be accused of preaching as a demagogue, I will give a further reason. Our Permanent Force of 3,800 men represents, roughly, one man for every mile of boundary line which divides us from our neighbours to the south. The Minister of Militia the other evening stated that he had cut down his Estimates to the lowest possible figure consistent with safety. When I asked him what danger he anticipated, he was unable to tell me. I am forced to conclude that the only danger he sees is the danger of aggression from our neighbour to the south. If he thinks 3,800 men are sufficient to defend us from that quarter, and soldier in the House will tell him that one man per mile is not sufficient. If this force is for training purposes—and I presume this is its principal purpose—I submit that we do not need to train soldiers at the present moment, for we have 400,000 of the best soldiers in the world that only two years ago returned from fighting in the greatest of all wars. They have learned how to fight on the bitterest of all fields, and they have become efficient enough to earn encomiums from the nations of the world. I do not say that as time goes on and these men disappear we will not have to replace them, and that we will not have to go in for further military training, but I submit that at the present moment, when we have no enemy either near or far to face, when, even if we had, we have a stronger and better disciplined and more efficient fighting organization in our returned men than we have ever in our history, when this organization can be called together in a matter of a few weeks to face any foe,—there is no necessity to incur this heavy military expenditure.
Mr. Edwards: Why does my honorable friend limit his cut to two million? Why does he not move that the whole item be eliminated?
Mr. Power: I limited the reduction to two millions because it was supposed to be necessary to have the skeleton on an army in case of any sudden uprising.
Mr. Edwards: My honorable friend is arguing that there is no such necessity.
Mr. Power: I argue that for the present there is no great necessity; is my honorable friend will back me up, of course, I will move to cut out the whole thing. If I cannot get his consent to that I would ask him to go with me a littler way in that direction.
Mr. Edwards: I feel very highly flattered to think that my honorable friend's judgment on military matters should be so influenced.
Mr. Power: My judgment in all matters in connection with parliamentary affairs is influenced a great deal by the way my honorable friend expresses himself and the way he votes. Ever since I came into this House I have followed his speeches and his views with considerable attention and have governed myself accordingly. For a number of years I have been endeavouring to obtain better treatment for the widowed mothers of soldiers. I am told that approximately $2,000,000 a year would well look after this class of our people who suffered through the war. I prefer that this $2,000,000 should be spent in this way rather than to train people to begin another war. My view is that before we embark on any further warlike or belligerent undertakings we should pay our debts to those who suffered as a result of the last war. Let is see that the widows and orphans of those who laid down their lives obtain something which shall prevent from having to scrape in order to earn a living. If honorable gentlemen opposite di not wish to spend this money, through pensions and re-establishment, for the benefit of widows and orphans, it could be devoted to the relief of the distress caused by unemployment and to look after the returned soldiers who so gallantly fought in the great war. If we did this we would alleviate in some degree the unrest and the bitter feeling which prevails among the returned men who since coming back to Canada have felt that promises were made to them during the war were made only to be broken. I move, Mr. Chairman, that this item be reduced by $2,000,000.
Mr. Guthrie: This item is reduced by a quarter of a million from the amount voted last year. It provides now for 4,000 rank and file and 412 officers, at an average of $1,350 each. My honorable friend's calculation is very wide of the mark. He has taken the basis of the pay of a private soldier only as a first-year man. He has allowed nothing for non-commissioned officers, nothing for the 950 horses we have to maintain, nothing for thirty or forty other items which he has not mentioned. We have already cut this item to the bone. In fact, unless there are some desertions during the summer, we may be just a little short. But in the hot weather there are always a certain number of desertions, and allowing for these the item will suffice, I trust, for the present fiscal year.
Mr. Davis: Where and in what numbers are the men of the Permanent Force stationed?
Mr. Guthrie: The following is a list of the military districts with the number of men at each:
- No. 1, London, 261;
- No. 2, Toronto, 580;
- No. 3, Kingston, 435;
- No. 4, Montreal, 321;
- No. 5, Quebec 463;
- No. 6, Halifax, 664;
- No. 7, St. John, 82;
- No. 10, Winnipeg, 512;
- No. 11, Victoria, 409;
- No. 12, Regina, 63;
- No. 13, Calgary, 210.
Amendment (Mr. Power) negatived; yeas, 37, nays, 60.