Hon. A. E. KEMP (Acting Minister of Militia):
Mr. Speaker, I think it is in the
public interest that I should refer to a statement which was made in the Senate in reference to the recruiting of soldiers, particularly in the city of Toronto. According to the Senate Hansard report of the 12th of April, the Hon. Mr. Choquette made some very extraordinary statements in regard to the degeneracy of the soldiers, particularly those who are being recruited in the city of Toronto. The remarks would, however, apply to soldiers being recruited in any other part of Canada, as conditions are very similar in other places. The Senator referred to an item which he read from a newspaper, and on which he based part of his argument. That item is as follows:
The 169th Battalion, in recruiting to its strength of 1,131 men, examined 2,365 men, and therefore rejected as unfit 1,234. Another mounted squadron, amounting to 540 men, examined 1,744, and therefore rejected 1,204.
I shall not read what the Senator said, because his remarks have been published in the press, and we all know what they were. Later on he read to the hon. members of the Senate, a letter
signed by a man who calls himself Robert Hazelton. The statements in this letter are extreme and uncalled for, and the whole letter can be judged by one remark in it. The writer refers to the Rev. Mr. Hincks in this way:
The "Rev." (?) Hincks is a faker. He is an adventurer' and to the native-horn he is known as a " Broncho Bullshooter," always blowing his own horn.
I desire to say that I am acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Hincks, as are many other hon. members of this Housb. He is a very highly respected clergyman, and is known as such from one end of this country to the other. Therefore, so far as the letter from Mr. Hazelton is concerned, it does not serve as a proper pretext for any of the remarks which Senator Choquette made.
I have received two telegrams from the commanding officer at Toronto, Brigadier General Loggie, which are as follows:
30,280 men have enlisted from Toronto. Officer Commanding 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles states that there were no rejections from the detail of Body Guard, Light Horse or 2nd Dragoons, hut 40 or 50 men in Brampton detachment were rejected for under-size. 169th reports that 1,336 rejections were made by his medical officer for chest measurements not being in proportion to height and age of men; flat feet and varicose veins. Medical examinations in this division were very strict and regulations absolutely adhhered to.
This causes an accumulation of men who have been previously rejected applying in each
succeeding unit in the hope of getting past the doctor. The recruiting depot is at work now on figures of total rejections in Toronto, and these will be forwarded early to-morrow morning (to-day). The A.D.M.S. of this division estimates about 30 per cent rejected. He found under-size, varicose veins and flat feet.
Further reference my telegram 13th instant, 37,402 recruits examined in Toronto, of which 7,122 rejected, 2,348 defective eye sight, 753 physically unfit, 626 flat feet, balance other defects.
Other defects include heart trouble, bronchitis, hernia, hammer toes, kidney disease, over age, and rheumatism.
Of these men rejected by 169th Battalion at least 25 per cent were repeated, that is men trying to enlist having previously been rejected. Total rejections of men examined 19 per cent.
I have here a short explanation which covers the whole matter, and which has been furnished to me by the officers of the department. It is as 'follows:
1. The men to whom reference is made were not recruited and then rejected. They were medically examined before being recruited or enlisted, and upon being found not to be up to the medical standard, they were not taken on the strength and are not ,so shown.
2. The medical standard required for enlistment is a high one, and it is in the Interest of the country that this should be so.
3. In any large community, there are a number of mer. who are so anxious to enlist that they come up over and over again for enlistment in the hope of being able to pass the medical examination. Such men are known as " repeaters," and their anxiety to enlist is to their credit rather than otherwise.
4. In England Lord Derby placed the deduction for medical unfitness at 40 per cent.
5 In Toronto 37,402 recruits have been examined of whom 7,122 have been rejected, or about 19 per cent. The cause of rejection being 2,348 for defective eye sight, and the balance for other defects, including over age, bronchitis, hernia, kidney disease and rheumatism, aa! also for minor defects such as flat feet or hammer toes and varicose veins.
6. It is reported that the rejections for the Mounted Squadron were not as stated. The officer commanding the unit in question states that there were no rejections from the details received by him from the Governor General's Foot Guards, the Mississauga Light Horse or the 2nd Dragoons, and that only about 50 men were rejected by him for under-size.
7. It is also reported that the rejections made by the medical officer for the 169th Battalion included at least 25 per cent of 'repeaters, i.e., men who tried to enlist but had previously been rejected. The other rejections were for failure to come up to the standard of chest measurement, for flat feet, varicose veins, etc.
8. The percentage of rejections in Toronto is certainly not larger than in other parts of Canada or in any other country.
9. It is absolutely false that there is any substantial proportion of men offering themselves for enlistment who are " diseased, depraved or deformed."
The city of Toronto has enlisted 30,280 soldiers. These men are as fine specimens
of manhood as the country can produce. They have offered their lives in a great cause. The blood of many of them has already drenched the plains of France to assist in crushing Prussian militarism, which seeks to dominate the whole world, including Canada. Many of them are now fighting side by side with soldiers of France who speak the same language as the hon. Senator. These men, who have been so foully slandered, are offering their lives with the soldiers of France to prevent the women and children of that nation from suffering horrors, tortures, and cruelties similar to those which a relentless foe perpetrated upon the women and children of poor, heart-broken Belgium. More than 300,000 men in Canada have offered their lives for the same purpose. Under these circumstances it is a fair question for me to ask, does Senator Choquette represent the opinion of any one in Canada except himself?