February 26, 1912

EDUCATIONAL BILLS.


On the orders of the day being called.


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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE.

I wish to call attention to two Private Bills, No. 68 and 69, relating to Queen's University, Kingston. These are both 'educational Bills and I think properly belong to the province of Ontario. It would be well to refer them to the Minister of Justice before proceeding with them.

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NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION.

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Mr. E. M.@

MACDONALD (Pictou) moved the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the rules of the National Rifle Association and their effect on the status of Canadian riflemen competing at Blsley.

He said: The matter to which I wish to call the attention of the House is one.

I want to say that the statement there attributed to Lord Cheylesmore, that they were giving the Dominion Rifle Association an opportunity of altering the Sutherland sight is absolutely incorrect. There is nothing in connection with any sight involved in these regulations. It is not a matter of sight in any manner whatever. The Sutherland rifle sight is a sight which has been made in Canada, it has been adopted by the Militia Department, and it has turned out to be a great success. But, when I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that there is no possible provision in these regulations that in any way interfere with the use of the Sutherland sight, you will see that I was warranted in my language when I spoke of the Chairman of the National Rifle Association being entirely wrong. The same objection which is urged to the attachment of the Sutherland rifle sight applies to what is known as the B.S.A. No. '9 sight, or No. 7 Martin sight, or Parker sight, or any sight whatever that may be used in England or which has been prescribed by the National Rifle Association rules. The impression has gone abroad in Canada among those who have not looked into this question, that it was something in connection with the Sutherland rifle sight that caused the National Rifle Association to interfere to prevent its use at Bisley. That is not so. They have adopted a resolution which provides a method under which a rifle sight can be attached to the rifle. This is the method which they have adopted at home. They say that unless you attach the rifle sight to the rifle in that way you cannot use the sight. That is the whole proposition, and that is the cause of the quibbling and pinpricking on the part of the National Rifle Association. This rule was framed especially to bar out the Ross Mark 2 xx, the reason being because the sight when it lies over in a forward position covers in some part the loading part.

If you were to take the B.S.A. sight, the No. 9, the No. 7 Martin, or the Parker, and attach it to the rifle in the same way as the Sutherland rifle sight is attached to the Ross rifle it would clearly cover the loading part in exactly the same way. Any of these sights under the rule are attached to the War Office rifle in the most unserviceable manner, and hung down over the left side. The question is whether the rifle sight would be attached by some contrivance which is peculiar to the purpose on the left side of the rifle or whether it would be where it is now on the Ross rifle. They say that if you attach it as it is now in Canada you cannot shoot with that rifle, that you must attach it the way they attach it to the other rifle which is the most unserviceable Mr. MACDONALD.

way ever dreamed of, and which would expose the sight to the liability of destruction at any time. That is the ground they take, and the Dominion Rifle Association, through its secretary, in calling the attention of the National Rifle Association to this fact pointed out to them that the Ross rifle was the service arm of Canada, that the rule with regard to the sight was especially provided for the purpose of barring the Ross rifle, that there is no question of sight involved at all, that under these circumstances it is most unfair and that, in so far as the Dominion Rifle Association is concerned, it is questionable whether it would send a team to Bisley this year unless this difficulty is removed. Therefore, I submit that this proposition is a very serious one and one that is worthy of the attention of the House, the government, and the country as well. This last quibble, this last pretence, absolutely without any foundation, puts a bar and a ban upon a certain rifle sight, which is acknowledged everywhere to be a first-class rifle sight, in order to debar this rifle from use.

The facts are exactly as I have stated them. Let us see, however, how this new rifle which it is proposed shall be the one and only thing to be used at Bisley is regarded at home. Take the London ' Gazette,' of January 18, 1912; speaking about this very rifle that is prescribed, with the attachment which is said to be essential before you can use the rifle sight, the ' Gazette ' says:

The new rifle that is shortly to he issued to the infantry of the line is summed up as [DOT] a failure from the start' bythose who have had an opportunity of examining it or witnessing the tests that have been carried out with it at the School of Musketry at Hythe and elsewhere.

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Samuel Hughes (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal-Conservative

Hon. S. HUGHES (Minister of Militia and Defence).

That is not the Ross Tifle that is referred to there; that is the new British rifle.

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Andrew Archibald MacDonald

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MACDONALD.

I know that. I am speaking now of the British rifle, and this is a statement published in regard to it in the ' Pall Mall Gazette.' It is the new English rifle and the attachment is made obligatory under this new rule:

It is, admittedly, an improvement upon the short rifle now in use by the troops, with its terribly weak bolt-action, but it lags far behind the rifles in use by almost every continental army, and this despite the time that has been devoted to its consideration. _ _

The one great thing that can be said in favour of the new rifle is that it will be comparatively cheap to produce, and that much of the machinery laid down for the construction of the present pattern rifle can easily be adapted for its manufacture. Against this has to be set the sportsman's old maxim that

a ' poor gun is dear at any price/ It has admittedly a flatter trajectory than the present service rifle, especially when used with the new pointed weapon. Its ranging qualities, however, leave a good deal to be desired, and it is asserted by those who have handled the rifle that the old, long Lee-Enfield had a longer range. At the present time the sighting would likewise appear to be defective, but no doubt this is a matter that can be rectified.

There is a general feeling among the musketry experts of the army that the manufacture of the new rifle should be ' hung up ' until it has been further tested, especially in comparison with the Ross rifle of Canada. This is regarded by many well qualified to judge as the very finest all-round small-arms weapon that has ever been evolved, and surprise is expressed upon all hands that the military authorities should seek further for a rifle for our troops, or, with such a rifle already in existence, should proceed to manufacture an admittedly inferior weapon.

One well-known soldier, interviewed upon the subject of the new weapon, summed up the situation rather neatly. ' The rifle is obsolete before it is issued/ he remarked,

' and so soon as the entire army at home and abroad has been armed with it, the fact will be officially recognized.

That is the opinion of a leading organ of public opinion in London of this new English rifle.

We are, therefore, in this position that an absolutely unserviceable method of attaching the rifle-sight to the rifle is made obligatory upon Canadians who go to Bis-ley to shpot. Under a pretext they attempt to lead the public to believe that there is-something the matter with our rifle-sight, and that unless you can attach their rifle-sight to the rifle in the way they prescribe our men cannot shoot at Bisley at all Now, it is impossible on account of the construction of the Ross rifle to attach the Sutherland rifle-sight or any of these other sights in the method prescribed by the National Rifle Association regulations. The evidence to my mind is conclusive that-there is another attempt for what reason we may infer one way or the other, on the part of the people of England, and whether they, are interested in English small arm factories or not to attempt to exclude Canadians from using the service arm of Canada when shooting at Bisley. They tell the Canadian militiamen that unless they find some scheme of performing the impossible feat of attaching in the manner prescribed the Sutherland rifle sight to the Ross rifle before the first day of April next, the Canadians cannot shoot at Bisley. This is another evidence that the National Rifle Association is not in good faith in the reasons given for its action. I feel sure that the Minister of Militia is very much interested in this question and I hope he will take the matter up. If financial conditions are at the base of the action of the National Rifle Association, it is a question for the

War Office to consider in their contributions to that association, and for all the other militia departments of the' empire to consider whether or not a trifling matter of finance is going to interfere with the cultivation of rifle shooting amongst the militiamen of the empire. That is a question that ought to be settled very readily. It seems to me that it is very unsportsmanlike for Englishmen to say that because Canadians have won and are winning year after year more and more money at Bisley, that they should take some way to prevent them from so doing. Unless Canadian militiamen are allowed to shoot with the Canadian service arm, the supremacy of which is recognized everywhere, it seems to me the Dominion Rifle Association should take some drastic action to bring the matter to a head. But, this is not the only difficulty in connection with the Bisley rifle shooting that deserves the attention of the Minister of Militia. Every one will remember how proud Canadians were to hear last summer that Canada had won the King's prize. There were at the same time mut-terings here and there of the ill-treatment of the Canadians by the officials of the ranges at Bisley, but perhaps in the excitement of the elections these complaints were overlooked. It is, however, a very serious thing for the riflemen of Canada, and I have here a declaration made by Private Clifford who won the King's prize last year at Bisley, and which I shall Tead for the purpose of explaining to the House and the country the difficulties with which our riflemen were surrounded. This declaration reads:

Dominion of Canada,

Province of Ontario.

To Wit;

In the matter of the -treatment of the Canadian rifle team at Bisley at the National Rifle Association meeting in the year 1911.

I, William J. Clifford of the city of Toronto, in the county of York, do solemnly declare;-

1. I attended and competed at the meeting of the National Rifle Association at Bisley in the month of July 1911 as a member of the Canadian Rifle Team.

2. That during the first week of the competition in shooting in a sweepstake competition at two hundred yards, I had five shots on score when I was interrupted and stopped by the range officer who claimed that my position with the butt of the rifle resting on the ground was against the rules. I asked to be allowed to finish my score under protest hut the range officer refused and stopped me while he consulted with another range officer and looked up the rules, and after considerable delay and discussion found that my position was quite correct when they allowed me to complete my score. I und-retand that this was immediately brought to the attention of the executive of the N.R.A. and my position upheld, as it is cleai'ly defined and allowed by the rules

and the executive promised that such interference would not be allowed again.

3. That notwithstanding the above I was afterwards several times interfered with and stopped and delayed in my shooting during the meeting on account of the position of my rifle, which was clearly allowed by the rules and upheld by the executive.

4. That during the second week of the competition ait the six hundred yards Tange of the King's match my register keeper in the middle of my score and while I was aiming pulled my arm and stopped me from shooting, claiming that my position was not allowed by the rules. I hod been interfered with so much previous to this on that account that I had the exact number of the rule in my mind ready for the occasion, so I referred him to the exact number and as ordered by him waited, he looked it up, when he had looked it up and found that I was right he gave me instructions to carry on which T then did without further delay and fired well within the time limit allowed from the time I was told to shoot. Upon my firing and making the bull's eyes the register keeper scored it in the usual way on the block board but one Major Silverthorne, a range or executive officer who had been standing by took the chalk and scored out the bull's eye on the blackboard saying that he would not allow that bull's eye as it was not fired within the time limit. He had counted the time which I had been prevented by the register keeper from shooting while looking up the rules which I explained to him could not be counted and also that the register keeper had no right to pull my sleeve or interfere with me in the act of aiming which the register keeper denied hut which my two competitors in their statements to Major Silverthorne bore out and for their pains were told to mind their own business. The bull's eye was not at that time allowed to me and Major Silverthorne said that I was on his butt all day and threatened that he would watch and catch me yet. Under the circumstances I finished my score with an outer and the hull's eye that had been scratched off was afterwards allowed me.

5. When I shot the next range of the King's 500 yards this Major Silverthorne was waiting behind my target for me to come up. When I was shooting my score he sat behind me with his watch out and timed every shot I fired.

6. At the next range 200 yards he was right after me and repeated his actions of previous ranges.

7. I understand that the adjutant of the Canadian team put in a protest against the treatment I had received at the 600 yard butt and the executive of the N.R.A. said that they would look into the matter again.

8. During the second stage of the King's match this same Major Silverthorne hovered as closely behind me at each range during the whole shoot, although he was without his official badge ou his arm, and I and the Canadian competitors were of the opinion that he was there officiously and not officially but had been relieved from duty.

9. During the whole of my shooting in the first and second stages of the King's, Major Silverthorne watched and timed me and ap-

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Andrew Archibald MacDonald

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MACDONALD.

peared to entirely neglect the other competitors in the neighbourhood, although some of them took more time to shoot each shot than double that taken by me. _

10. It appeared to me that this Major Silverthorne and a- number of the range officers were watching the Canadians much more closely than the other competitors (in fact almost entirely) and interfering with our shooting unduly from time to time.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to he true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.

Declared before me at the city of Toronto in the county of Tork this 23rd day of

February, A.D. 1912. J. p. White.

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W. J. CLIFFORD.


I have no less than five other affidavits corroborative of this story. I do not want to take up the time of the House further than to make clear that these complaints are not made in any captions way, but are made under oath. Here is a declaration made under oath by Mr. Charles D. Spittal, of the city of Ottawa: I, Charles D. Spittal, of the city of Ottawa, in the county of Carieton, do solemnly declare :- 1. I am a commissioned officer in the Canadian Army Service Corps, was a member of the Canadian Rifle Team of 1911, which attended and competed at the annual meeting of The National Rifle Association at Bisley in the month of July, 1911. 2. As I had had previous experience in the way of unnecessary interference by officious [DOT] range officers, I went to the adjutant of the team, before the commencement of the meeting, and asked him to go to the National Rifle Association officials and have a perfect understanding in regard to the matter of the shooting position assumed by some of the Canadians and undue interference on the part of their range oificers; I also asked him to make sure that said range officers were made perfectly acquainted with the rules and regulations. I understand he went to the National Rifle Association people; however he came to me later and said bi had settled the matter and that there would be no trouble this time. I informed the other members of the team, and we were all delighted to know that it would he plain sailing. 3. The meeting had only commenced when different members of the team began to complain about interference, and I did my utmost to adjust matters by informing the adjutant and requesting him to see to it further. Nevertheless, the interference occurred right along at intervals, and the most glaring offence happened when Private Clifford was shooting at the 600 yards range in His Majesty the King's match. He was making a good score when the register keeper interrupted him, and by using physical force prevented him from firing his next shot. Clifford thereupon told him to look up rule 40 and he would see that his position was legitimate. This argument took up more than 45 seconds (the time allowed a competitor to fire each shot) and when the register keeper was satisfied that Clifford was right, he allowed him to proceed, hut a certain Major Silverthorne, the executive officer of the Century Ranges, came up to the score board and crossed out the bull's eye which Clifford had made, claiming that he had exceeded the time limit. Clifford very politely informed him that he could not shoot and argue at the same time, but Silverthorne would not listen to reason, and partly lost control of his temper with other competitors who endeavoured to explain. He afterwards allowed the bull's eye but, looking at Clifford's ticket said ' Never mind young man, you will be on this range all day, and I will look after you.' 4. After the above occurrence I again requested the adjutant to make another complaint, which 1 understand he did. During the day I paid particular attention to what was going on while Clifford was shooting, and again at the 500 yards range Major Silverthorne appeared, brought a chair and seated himself directly behind Clifford with his watch in his hand, evidently timing his shots. Clifford had four bull's eyes on score when several members of the National Rifle Association council came along. I could hear Major Silverthorne telling them of the trouble with Clifford at the 600 yards range, and he drew their attention to his shooting position, whereupon they all gathered about him on both sides while he was actually shooting. For this shot he scored a magpie. I thought this was really persecution, and when Clifford arose I shouted to him ' Hail, hail, the gang's all here '. Silverthorne looked at me with a scowl, and came over my way to give some orders to some soldiers who were beside me, but the sergeant in charge informed him that they were not under his charge; he turned, then some one laughed audibly, and then he came back towards me with a wild look in his face and asked me to tell him what remark he heard. X politely told him that I did not have his ears on my head and could not say what he might have heard. We had quite a set-to, and for this he followed me up until it came to my turn to shoot. When I took my position he brought a chair, seated himself and took out his watch and stayed there until I had finished. 4. That, during the Kolapore Cup match, I was a coach; upon the commencement of firing Major Silverthorne brought his chair and took up a position immediately to the left of Corporal Mortimer. Another range officer was with him. Mortimer called me and complained about these range officers talking and commenting upon his position, and asked me to have- them removed. I then went to Silverthorne and told him that their conversation was bothering the competitors and requested them to move a little farther away. He replied that I should not trouble myself, that he was alright there. Later on Mortimer again complained and the adjutant requested him to move. 5. That, when the final stage of the King's match was reached, Major Burland and I proceeded to the 1,000 yards range and took up a position behind private Clifford, actually prepared to fight any one who interfered or attempted to interfere with him, as the situation has become so desperate, and unsatisfactory from a Canadian point of view. It was quite apparent that there was a dead-set against the Canadians, and I did not see, nor did not hear of, a British competitor being interfered with. I hav-e declarations of a similar character made by Mr. H. R. Roberts, of the city of Toronto, Mr. Bayies, of the city of Toronto, and Mr. George Mortimer, of Quebec, all well-known rifle shots, who were at Bisley last year. When the facts were called to my attention, I could hardly believe the conditions to be as they are; but the evidence is overwhelming that for some reason the officials of the National Rifle Association have made a dead-set against Canadians in this matter of rifle shooting. The statements under oath showing the unfair treatment accorded to the Canadian who had the distinction of winning the King's prize must have caused a feeling of resentment on the part of every one in Canada interested in this matter. When we realize that year after year, by petty quibbles and pin-pricks which have no merit whatever, the association has been attempting to prevent the use at the Bisley meet of the Canadian service arm, which is conceded by public opinion, expressed by the leading newspapers in England, to be the best arm of its kind extant, it does seem incredible that that kind of treatment should be meted out to the greatest colony of the empire. The last treatment accorded to the Sutherland rifle-sight, by which the impression has been attempted to be created that there is something the matter with that sight, was based on actual mis-statements, a method of attachment having been prescribed which the men who made it knew would prevent the sight being attached to the Ross rifle at all. These are conditions which I think warrant me in calling the attention of the House to this matter. I know the interest which the minister takes in rifle shooting. I recall the occasion two years ago when, dealing with a similar rule, which had no foundation in merit, and which was afterwards removed, he addressed the House on the matter; and I would ask him to look into the facts which I have brought to the attention of the House, and to take such steps as are within his power or the power of the Canadian government to see that the rights of Canada in this matter and the rights of the men who go to England to shoot are safeguarded in future. If not, let ns have a clear understanding on the matter, and let the Canadian boys not go home, and let it be well understood all over the empire why they do not go.


LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Hon. SAMUEL HUGHES (Minister of Militia).

Mr. Speaker, the subject matter

of the discourse of the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) is not new to the House. For a number of years, ever since the long Eoss rifle has attained the high standard of perfection which it has now reached, our riflemen have been subjected at the Bisley and National rifle ranges to such obstruction and annoyance as the hon. member has referred to. In the first place their declaration was that the Eoss rifle as shot at Bisley was not the arm with which the Canadian troops were universally armed. Well, Sir, it was pointed out on that occasion that the rifle which the British riflemen used at Bisley was not the arm which was furnished to the British army. The British army is supplied with the short Lee Enfield rifle, and not one weapon of that kind has been fired through the matches at Bisley. We had the short Eoss rifle for Canada, many of which were in the hands of our troops, and the disadvantages arising from the use of any short rifle-disadvantages which I shall not enter upon here to-day-were patent, and so our government decided to use the long rifle. When the Canadian riflemen appeared at Bisley with this rifle objection was taken to it. However they fired with it through the matches and came out winners-three years ago. Then the National Eifle Association passed the rule which my hon. friend (Mr. Macdonald) has referred to, that no rifle other than the recognized arm of Britain- either the long Enfield rifle or the short Enfield rifle-could be used at Bisley unless it had first been submitted to, and had received the approval of, their committee. The object then was patent. After the success of the long Ross rifle three years ago, thousands of these rifles were ordered by the British rifleman as well as riflemen from other colonies. Therefore, something had to be done to stop this sale of Eoss rifles to the riflemen of the empire. Accordingly the National Eifle Association issued this order which threw a doubt upon the fact as to whether the Ross rifle would be permitted to be used the following year or not. However, Sir, the Eoss rifle was used the following year subject to more or less restrictions on their part. Then came the rule for the next year that none but Canadians could use the Ross rifle; and then, following the great success that has attended the use of the Eoss rifle for three years, came the very objectionable treatment of our men at Bisley last year. I shall not go into details of the treatment which our men with the Eoss rifle received on the ranges at Bisley during the last three or four years. Let-me point out the injustice with which our men on those ranges -who adopted what they called the Clifford position were treated. Yet Lord Kitchener himself highly com-Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

mended the Clifford position inasmuch as it keeps a man's head much closer to the ground in firing than does the ordinary prone position. Lord Roberts, I understand also commended the position, and I know that Lord Grey also sent for Clifford, had him show the position and commended it most highly. Then, Sir, while in the very act of shooting our men have been subjected to all sorts of annoyances, not only over the Clifford position; but again and again remarks have been made by register keepers after a man had made a bull's eye, such as, ' Were you shooting with British or Canadian ammunition?' evidently designed to annoy the rifleman, for any one who is familiar with rifle shooting knows what annoyance it is to have any one whispering and murmuring behind his back, much less interfering with him. The climax has now come in the action of the National Rifle Association. They now propose, Sir, the rule that:

Except in competitions restricted to ' sights as issued ' an additional or substituted backsight may be used provided it complies with all the conditions set out in subsection (e) and that, whether in use or not in use, it does not interfere with the charging of the magazine or the working of the holt when loading and unloading and that, when not in use, it does not interfere with the use of the leaf backsight, as issued, no part of which may be removed from the rifle.

Now, Sir, the British rifle has a special place where an attachment is made and held by a screw to the side of the barrel but the Canadian has not. Thus you will see that unless this special fixture which is on the British rifle is also on the Canadian rifle, the Canadian rifleman is ruled out. The National Rifle Association therefore, take advantage . of that technicality and the Canadian rifle is not to be used. Then section 3 says:

An additional backsight may be attached io any part of the rifle provided that this be done without alteration of or damage to any part of the rifle.

Now lest we should be able to overcome these technicalities they go on and provide : *

A substituted backsight must be attached to the rifle solely by the removal and re-in-seition of the method of attachment of the long range aperture backsight used on government rifle, and must be so attached when used in any competition.

Now, I maintain, Sir, that in so far as the National Rifle Association is concerned their needs would have been equally met by one of two rules; by saying no Eoss rifle should be used in the competitions, or that only Lee Enfield rifles should be used in these rifle competitions at Bisley. I am not 'speaking here on behalf of the Dominion Eifle Association, which has the

matter under consideration, but there is a great deal to be said in favour of the contention of my hon. friend, that when the Canadian Government send their men out armed with a certain rifle it does not rest with the National Rifle Association to pretend to define for this country any form of rifle its riflemen shall use so long as they comply with the general requirements of the military sight. We know what is at the bottom of this matter: this is an agitation on the part of the English rifle manufacturers. A few years ago five thousand Ross rifles were ordered in less than two days on the ranges and the English manufacturers stood aghast. Later the order came out cancelling the use of any rifle excepting under the conditions I have referred to, and then the story went abroad that the Ross rifle could not be used at all. Accordingly all these orders were cancelled, because between the 1st of April and the time of shooting one could not possibly manufacture such a number of rifles in time for the competitions; the thing is an absolute impossibility. In other words it is practically prohibitive for the Ross rifle. But that rifle has attained the proud position of being recognized not only in Canada but the world over, as the best military rifle to be found anywhere today, has caused the British government tc take action, and for a number of years they have been perfecting the rifle which my hon. friend referred to in the extract which he read from the ' Pall Mall Gazette ' of London, the extract which I also have before me, where they demand that the Ross rifle shall be used by British troops. T mieht say incidentally, in passing, that the colonies, so far as I can learn, have not been consulted directlv or indirectly in regard to the issue of this new British rifle. For years not only Canadians, but riflemen the British Empire over have demanded that the calibre of the Ross rifle shall be reduced down from' -303 to -280, or even less. The British government, we understand, although we have no official author^" vet, are reducing it down to -276 and are changing the weapon in many wavs. As this article quoted says:

The rifle in advance is condemned.

As the article which has been quoted says the rifle is condemned in advance. While in Washington last winter to my surprise I learned all the details of the new British rifle. In Germany this summer, in conversation with German officers, I learned the details of the mew British rifle. I visited Great Britain and consulted the authorities there, but could learn nothing whatever of the new British rifle, it was an absolute secret in England six months after the United States officers could tell me all about it. That is a strange way to treat those of us in the colonies who are interested in military affairs.

In order to get over the difficulties in the way of young British soldiers or soldiers from other colonies who naturally felt handicapped in using their obsolete Lee-Enfields as compared with the long Ross rifle, the Canadian, government have offered, to loan to the British National Rifle Association without charge any number of rifles they may wish, up to 10,000 if they desire them, for this competition. So far there has been no acceptance of the offer.

It is unnecessary to go further into the rifle-sight, 'that matter is being considered by the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association. It has only recently been brought to my attention.

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Andrew Archibald MacDonald

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MACDONALD.

Does the minister agree in my statement that there can be no possible imputation against the Sutherland rifle-sight ?

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Samuel Hughes (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

It is not the Sutherland rifle-eight that is concerned; it is any sight. I may explain the matter. The British rear aperture sight is attached on the side of the rifle, the Ross rear aperture sight is attached to a bridge which is used also as a clip loader, attached across the bridge of the rifle. All you have to do with the Ross rifle is to remove a pin holding the back sight in the middle position, take off the back-sight and move it hack to the rear. The one sight does. With the British rifle they must have two sights, when they use the rear 'aperture sight they must use a second sight which is attached to the screw-hole on the sight; a very 'awkward thing, much more awkward than if it were attached. to the bridge as we attach it. I maintain that of the two the Ross rifle position is much better. It is true that when the Sutherland rifle-sight is turned down the end projects over the end of the receiver, but tbat is a mere detail, and the point is taken advantage of in order to bar out our rifle. This was recognized by British riflemen who have pointed out to me again and again that the whole question is a financial one on the part of these rifle companies and the riflemen of the old country feel 'handicapped in having to use their obsolete British rifles as 'against the Ross, and I do trust that the offer of the Canadian people to loan them 10,000 of onr long Ross rifles, which will place them on a par with our boys, will be accepted, because there is no doubt that men shooting with the Ross rifle have a great advantage over men shooting with the Lee-Enfleld.

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CON

William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NORTHRUP.

After listening carefully to the remarks of my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) I must confess that I was unable to hear one word that would show any justification for holding up the House during this discussion unless it be the urgent need of advertisement for the

Sutherland sight or the Ross rifle. I would join my hon. friend in one respect and ask the Minister of Militia when making his appeal to the Home authorities to do one further thing, to take steps not merely to protect the rights of our marksmen in the old country but also-and I make this request in all sincerity-to take the necessary and proper steps to protect the reputation of Canada, which, rightly or wrongly, has suffered very much in the old country owing to the conduct of some people in connection with the use of the Ross rifle at the Bisley ranges. I am not here to make charges, I am here to state facts and I state that not only in England but in Canada there are a great many people who very gravely doubt the truth of a certificate given by the late Minister of Militia at a time when a question was raised on the Bisley range as to the use of the Ross rifle, and I venture to think if some of the marksmen from Canada who have been interfered with, as apparently they have been from the declarations read, could investigate to the bottom of their troubles, they would find in all probability that the reason they were interfered with was the want of confidence on the part of people in the old country in the honesty of Canadians in using the particular Ross rifle they were then using and representing it as the service rifle in use in Canada. The Minister of Militia says that the Ross rifle, is the noblest arm this world has ever seen, and I am not ready at this moment to contradict him-but he must remember that he used almost the same language in describing the primitive Ross rifle which was so hopelessly stupidly conceived that the Militia Council declined to receive it until five or six changes had been made, and although it was foisted on the country at an enormous expense, some $600,000 before 30 of them were delivered to the militia, 90 changes had to be made before it could be accepted. The Ross rifle that is being used at Bisley is a long barrelled rifle. There is one rifle called the Ross rifle with a long barrel and another with a short barrel. It was stated in England and I believe in Canada that there were practically no Ross rifles in use in Canada of the style then used on the Bisley ranges. There were Ross rifles with short barrels but the great advantage of the Ross rifle, as has always been alleged in this House and in the investigations was its lightness, whereas the rifle for target practice was too heavy to be an effective service rifle, and I am informed that it was not the service rifle in Canada, that our troops were not armed with it, that it was not known in Canada unless possibly a favoured individual here or there had been pre-fsented with one. Under those circumstances a question arose at Bisley as to whether Canada would be allowed to shoot Mr. NORTHRTTP.

with a rifle that might not comply with the requirement that it should be a service rifle. A certificate was given by Sir Frederick Borden, then Minister of Militia for Canada over his own signature that the rifle used there, the long-barrelled Ross rifle, was the service rifle used in Canada. I am appealing to the Minister of Militia to take the trouble to ascertain and give the House a statement showing how many rifles of that character were purchased and how many had been distributed to the militia of Canada at that date. That information might go a long way towards removing a very serious suspicion both in England and Canada that the so-called Ross rifle used at Bisley, while certainly manufactured by the Ross Rifle Company, and while no doubt an excellent rifle as proved by its shooting, was not a rifle that should be used there by honest competitors because it was not a service rifle. I have not a word to say against this rifle which has been so well advertised, but I would like for the reputation of Canada that these grievances of militiamen in Canada should be thoroughly investigated, and the suspicions cleared away by seeing whether or not the long barrelled rifle manufactured by the Ross Rifle Company was then or is now in the hands of the militia of Canada.

Topic:   W. J. CLIFFORD.
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CON

Hugh Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HUGH CLARK (North Bruce).

My hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) has referred to the mutterings that were wafted across the water some time ago, with respect to undue interference on the part of range officers with Canadian riflemen. He has quoted affidavits and declarations made by Canadian riflemen which prove that there was such interference. The Minister of Militia I think has corroborated this. The member for Pictou is privileged to read these affidavits in this House. The Ottawa ' Journal on the other hand, not long ago published an article in which it gave voice to these mutterings of the annoyances and penalties that were imposed >v these range officers on Canadian riflemen. As a result of that, a libel action has been entered against the Ottawa ' Journal ' which must be brought in England, and which is bound to be an exceedingly expensive piece of litigation for the Ottawa ' Journal ', whether it wins or loses. That article was written in good faith, and was written on behalf of Canadian riflemen. It was merely giving voice to the charges that have been made to-day by the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald). If the Minister of Militia believes that these charges are well founded, then I think that the Department of Militia ought to come to Jhe assistance and defence of the Ottawa 'Journal; ' at any rate, if the Militia Department is not able to do that, I believe the Ottawa * Journal ' should receive tangi-

ble and substantial sympathy and support from the Dominion Rifle Association.

Topic:   W. J. CLIFFORD.
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L-C

Samuel Hughes (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

I do not know to what my hon. friend from Hastings (Mr. Northrup) refers in his remarks when he repeats a statement that the rifle was rejected, after I gave my certificate in its favour. There is not a tittle of fact in the statement to which the hon. gentleman refers. I was not present at the time the committee first adopted the rifle. At that time I was investigating the conditions of the rifle at my own expense, in every arsenal in the United States of America, and getting information, -and I have defended the rifle as an old and straight' arm through all these years; until we find almost every gentleman in almost every country, who formerly opposed the principle and the use of the Ross rifle, has been forced by the sheer success of that rifle, to bow to the inevitable, and to acknowledge that the rifle has proven itself the best weapon in the world. As to the question of the honesty of the Canadian government, I have nothing to say. But I do know, that whether the certificate was given or was not given, by my predecessor in office, at that very moment, there were 1,000 of these rifles ordered, and they were nearly all in the hands of volunteers in Canada. I want to point out that that number is fifty per cent higher proportion in the hands of volunteers in Canada, considering the number of troops we have, and the number of volunteers, than 10,000 would be in the hands of British soldiers, and 1,000 is the usual number put into the hands of British soldiers to test a new rifle. The libel suit against the * Ottawa Journal ' is a matter with which I have nothing to do, either in my personal capacity, or as Minister of Militia, or as president of the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association. I may point out that the libel suit is brought by reason of one statement in the 'Ottawa Journal' that Major Silver-thorne was suspended. Now I know as a matter of fact, it was current rumour all over the range that he was suspended for his conduct in interfering, and I have no hesitation in saying here, as I would tell Major Silverthorne to his face, that if he was not suspended he should have been, for his action towards our riflemen on that occasion in Bisley. The British riflemen do not wish to use-their own rifle, and I do not blame them a particle for not wishing to use the Lee-Enfield rifle. It is true that there was a public offer made to these people of the loan of 10,000 rifles, if they wanted 20,000 I could furnish them, of these long Ross rifles, so that the British riflemen may have an opportunity of competing in the coming matches, and in order that Canadian boys in future may be armed with the Ross rifle, and that there may be

no more friction in the matter. For unless this is done, in the first place, I doubt if the association will send them over again, and in the second place, I doubt if the riflemen will go.

Topic:   W. J. CLIFFORD.
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L-C

Andrew Archibald MacDonald

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MACDONALD.

Notwithstanding the doubts from my hon. friend from Hastings (Mr. Northrup), as to the wisdom of my bringing this matter before the House this afternoon, I have no apology to make for my remarks or for bringing the matter to the attention of the House. My hon. friend from Hastings seems to be in bad humour this afternoon, and some choleric movement has induced him to take a curious position in this matter. He suggests a doubt as to the accuracy of the statement when the Minister of Militia, in 1910, sent the certificate home to England in regard to the rifle that was being used by the men who shot at Bisley. But as a matter of fact, as the present Minister of Militia has pointed out, not only was this arm used at that time in great numbers among the militiamen of this country, but the Militia Orders and Minutes of those dates will show conclusively that at a period long anterior to the rising of this issue by the National Rifle Association, that particular arm had been prescribed as the service arm of the Canadian militia. My hon. friend tells us that Private Clifford, the winner of the King's prize, an act which won him great distinction, has no ground of complaint, because Major Silverthorne or some other gentleman had a right to interfere with him when he was shooting, and suspected he was using a rifle that was not of the prescribed pattern. Complaint was made by Private Clifford in 1911, of his treatment by the authorities in England, a period long after the time when. Major Silverthorne or any other gentleman had expressed any doubts whether these gentlemen were using th* prescribed Canadian rifle in the old country. It does seem to me that this House and the country generally have every right to treat with absolute credence, and give full weight to, the statements made by the gentlemen whose affidavits I have read. They are men of standing in this country, who are engaged in rifle shooting as a part of their business as militiamen, men whose words can be accepted. When this evidence was first submitted to me I did not know that any issue had been raised in a libel suit. I do not know what the libel suit is about. But I say that when you have Canadians who have done honour and have brought credit upon this country as militiamen abroad, and when you find men making statements ais these men have made, this parliament would be recreant to its duty if it did not take notice of it. I hope the minister will take steps to see

that the rights of Canadians in this regard are vindicated.

Topic:   W. J. CLIFFORD.
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CHANGING NAMES OF POST OFFICES.

LIB

Alfred Henry Clarke

Liberal

Mr. CLARKE (Essex).

I desire to ask the Postmaster General with regard to a report appearing in the press that the name of the Post Office at Stony Point has been changed to Pointe a la Roche, and that the names of River Canard and Belle River, in my county, have been changed.

Topic:   CHANGING NAMES OF POST OFFICES.
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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER.

This is a matter of which I would like to have some notice.

Topic:   CHANGING NAMES OF POST OFFICES.
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February 26, 1912