Yes, except that, as the hon. gentleman knows, there is a vote which we shall come to presently, out of which the expenses of transport, &c\, are paid, and this vote will be utilized for the transport of officers to this school exactly as in the case of the other depots. In fact, this is practically the establishment of another depot, but for the purpose of teaching rifle shooting.
Precisely. No subaltern should in future, according to the recommendation of the general, be promoted captain, nor a captain be promoted major, who is not in possession of an ordinary musketry certificate.
I do not intend to follow the remarks made by the hon. member for Haldimand (Mr. Thompson), because I have not been in the force for a good many years, though I still take some interest in it. Nor have I followed with the same care as the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Hughes) has done the different changes that have been made. But there was one criticism that he omitted to make, and possibly it is the greatest difficulty we have to meet in the volunteer militia, and that is to get officers to qualify. I see nothing, either in the general's report or in any of the remarks of the minister, that tends to remove that difficulty. I agree that it is necessary if possible to have qualified officers. In my day, and for many years, I knew something about that when I was in command of a regiment, and I notice now that instead of decreasing, that difficulty seems to be increasing. Ln those days there were no schools in existence, the men went before the regular officers and had a school established on the old plan, or what was known as a board. In those days, where I live, we had more qualified officers, according to my knowledge of the regiments, than we have to-day. But no doubt qualification in musketry Instruction is excellent, and I would be prepared to support any reasonable expenditure in order to give it. The query to my mind is whether bringing them all the way down to Ottawa from all parts of the Dominion is going to induce the officers to go to the expense of qualifying. I find now in many of the rural battalions there are very few actually qualified officers. So far as my knowledge goes of some of them there is only one really good qualified officer to a company, and some companies turn out
without any. Therefore, in framing new regulations, I think it would be well to consider that proposition, before adopting the recommendation of the general officer, whose recommendations, of course, to a large extent, are expected to prevail. It may be possible there is no other plan than to make a central school. I agree with the hon. member for Victoria, B.C. (Hon. Mr. Prior), that what we should aim at is simplicity of instruction of the capable men we have, who will take it up quickly, the department making as little circumlocution as possible. In the explanations of the minister, the first point that strikes me is that you will have great difficulty tin getting captains, because I fear that many of them are not likely to take the time necessary to go ,so far. As the minister says, the expense is not as great for establishing the school as proposed. There is one thing more I wish to say, and I am sure the minister and the staff will accept it in the spirit In which it is said. I am blaming neither the officers nor the staff, but it has always seemed to me that there was not quite enough of sympathy, or of what I call touch, between the staff and the officers all over the country. I do not mean to say that there is anything ap-proaphing a lack of confidence between them ; but yet the staff seem to be a little too distinctive from the others. The militia officers feel that they are being treated too much as if it was desired to make regular soldiers of them, when it is not possible for them to be regular soldiers. Probably the formation of this school is the best method that can be adopted. But certainly I fear that even under this plan the department will fail to get the requisite number of captains in the country, and if there is any possible way of obviating that difficulty I would be glad to have some one suggest it.
I am sure I would be very unreasonable indeed if I were to find fault with my hon. friend's criticism. I have had the pleasure of sitting in the House for many years with him, and I am bound to say there is no more reasonable man in presenting criticism than that hon. gentleman. There is no doubt a great deal of force in what he says. He will concur with what I said with regard to the regulations proposed, but they were only a suggestion on the part of the general, the matter has not been settled. I think there is so much force iu what my hon. friend says that the requirement of this qualification should perhaps be restricted to field officers. An adjutant might be required to have that qualification, or perhaps one of the majors ; certainly I think the commanding officer of a battalion ought to be required to have it. Below that rank, what is done now might be continued iu many cases. To-day, to some extent, we remove the schools to the officers-in a case where there is a large number of officers
who find it Impossible to attend. Although I think it would be better for them to go, still, if there is a hardship and they find it impossible to attend a school, it would be well to move the school. I believe there is to be one established here in the city of Ottawa shortly ; there is one, as my hon. friend from Victoria has mentioned, now going on in the city of Montreal. Although we may still be called upon to do something of that kind, I believe that nothing that has been done in the militia for many years will confer as great benefits for the small amount of money expended as the establishment of this central school. At any rate, it won't cost us much to try it. We will have incurred no expenditure which will be wasted ; if, at the end of the year, we find it does not work, it is a very easy matter to give it up. My hon. friend referred to the importance of qualified officers ; he referred to the fact that many years ago there were more qualified officers than there are to-day, relatively to the population. That is quite correct. There is no doubt about that, but I must remind my hon. friend that at the time he speaks of, which I remember distinctly, the whole country was a part of the active militia. There was as large a militia force in the province of Nova Scotia in I860 as there is in the whole Dominion of Canada to-day, a larger force because there was a militia of forty thousand ready to be placed in arms in the province of Nova Scotia at that time, and, of course, we had to have qualified officers to command them. But, I think, I may say to my hon. friend, and to the committee, for the encouragement of the country at large, that there is to-day a very much larger number of qualified officers in Canada than there has been at any time since confederation, and that number is yearly increasing. We have established a reserve list upon which men who have withdrawn, or who had served out their time in the active militia, are placed, men in the prime of life, who would be available in case of necessity to take command of the units that were required to be enlisted. Owing to the strict enforcement of the time and age regulations of the militia, we have now commanding officers retiring and going on the reserve list. I know my hon. friend would be glad to learn, that, from this fact and from the greater interest taken in the militia, as well as from the larger attendance at the schools, we are to-day in a fair way to obtain an increased number of qualified officers.
I quite agree with the hon. Minister of Militia and Defence in what he has said, and I am very glad that he gave the explanation. I shall only deal with the practical points that have been mentioned. I know that the question is a difficult one, and I am only calling attention to it because, in militia matters, these are difficult things to handle, whoever may be the minister. We all join In the desire to improve the efficiency of the militia, and, therefore, I always try to offer such criticism as I have to make with that end in view. The need of qualified officers is one of the great difficulties expressed by the militia at the present time. I know that regiments * borrow them from the schools sometimes, because they could not go into camp without them. In connection with the schools, the only criticism I wish to make is the same criticism, because one of the great points, and one which will do more than almost any other to fill up the force and induce recruits to join, is to get actual officers permanently placed at the head of individual corps. Of course, you have to get qualified officers. I wished to impress on the minister a knowledge of what I have learned from officers in regard to this matter.