Mr. SAM. HUGHES.
Mr. Speaker, I de-s're to draw the attention of the House to
an item which appears iu this morning's ' Citizen.' I took the liberty of notifying the Minister of Militia this morning of the item and of asking him to look into it. The item reads as follows :
London, Ontario, June 11-(Special).-As the by-election here on Tuesday is likely to be close, whichever way it goes, the government is putting forth every effort to deter Conservative voters from exercising their franchise on Tuesday next. The latest scheme has been worked through the Militia Department. Six soldiers at tVolseley barracks have suddenly been ordered to report for duty at Niagara tomorrow. Every man of the six is a Conservative, and there is naturally a deal of indignation among Mr. Gray's friends at this mean political move on the part of the militia authorities.
I have not any further evidence before me than what is contained iu this item ; the facts are, though, that there is at the present time a camp in the city of Loudon, aud one would naturally suppose that this is the camp where these soldiers would be employed. The headquarters in Toronto for the permanent force is the source from which instructors would usually be drawn for Niagara. It may be stated that some of the soldiers from Toronto have been drafted away to Halifax to form a garrison there, and that therefore the London camp must be called upon to furnish men for certain duties at Niagara, but the fact stands forth that the camp at Niagara does not open until to-morrow, the date of the election, and the troops will not reach Niagara until tomorrow night. Therefore, there was no necessity, under any consideration whatever, to order these men from London before they had an opportunity of casting their ballots in the election to-morrow, whichever way they cast them. It does not matter to me how they vote, but they should have had this privilege, and then they could be in camp at Niagara to-morrow night in ample time for any instructional duties they may be called on to perform. Thg camp will not begin instructional work until Wednesday at the earliest. I trust the minister will be able to let us have full information in connection with this matter. It must be borne in mind that although these men are members of the permanent corps they lose none of their rights as citizens, that a soldier has every right which is possessed by any other citizen, and he should have his franchise the same as if he were an ordinary citizen. For some reason or other, the permanent corps, although the wages paid are high, as the rate has been increased, is not kept up to the establishment at all ; they are several hundred, I believe, short of the establishment at the present time.