June 24, 1925

PRO

George Arthur Brethen

Progressive

Mr. BRETHEN:

Do they examine the men who enlist to ascertain whether they are physically fit?

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

The medical officer in charge of the camp examines them.

Amendment negatived.

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Item agreed to. Permanent force, $4,800,000.


PRO

Alan Webster Neill

Progressive

Mr. NEILL:

I desire to explain to the

committee the case of some permanent men who were in the British army before enlisting with us. There are 149 of them and they claim they have not received all the justice that was coming to them. In the British service they enlist for a period of years with the colours and so many with the reserve, with permission to carry on in the reserve until they have put in twenty-one years when they are eligible for a considerable pension. It appears that these men after putting in a term of years in Great Britain came over here and were taken on our permanent force, and they

have made valuable instructors; an Old Country battalion or company sergeant-major makes a capable instructor. They were taken on with the distinct understanding from the British government that they would be recalled to the colours should war break out and thus were compelled to sign in their attestation paper an answer to the following question:

Do you understand that enlistment in the permanent force does not involve your discharge from the army reserve, but, if required for duty as an army reservist, you will be discharged from the permanent force?

When the war broke out the British

government notified them to join the colours but the Canadian authorities interfered. They said that these men were valuable to us and they asked permission from the British authorities to retain them. The British authorities gave their consent, but they coupled with it a condition that they be absolved from any further liability for pensions and that the Canadian government should take care of any claims in this regard. The men were not consulted as to whether they wished to rejoin their regiments in Britain or not, they were kept in Canada under military discipline, so to speak. As a result, after the war they found they were ineligible for their pensions from the British government, and they were only eligible for very short term pensions in the Canadian service. They also lost the advantages of promotion, and so forth, and they lost a very long period that they had served towards British pension. Their claim is that, under the circumstances, the period they put in with the British army should be counted towards their pension in the Canadian army. For instance, if a man served twelve years in the British army and five years here, he would now only be entitled to five years pension, whereas had he been discharged and gone back to his regipient, he would now have to his credit seventeen years for the British pension. It is a well-known axiom of law dealing with soldiers that, as they are under discipline, their pay or allowances shall not be taken from them without their permission. A civilian can leave his employment if he does not like the conditions, but a soldier has no option. While it is not a very important matter-there are only 149 men concerned-I think the government might well consider whether they should not meet the claim of these men. They have, inadvertently perhaps, been done an injustice.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

The matter has been called to my attention, but I found

Supply-Defence

the position to be this. Immediately after the war the Militia Pension Act was amended by the government of the day, having in view all the conditions that were supposed to exist at the time; two years ago the act was again amended; 'but in neither case was provision made for these men. It would be necessary to have a further amendment of the act in order to permit the remedy to be applied which my hon. friend desires, and I have not felt it possible to introduce such an amendment at this session. However, the matter -will be considered in the meantime.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Mr. Chairman, I endorse

what the hon. member for Comox-Albemi (Mr. Neill) has said. I think provision should be made at an eaily date to look after these men, because many of them have now served well over twenty years, ten or twelve of which service was in the imperial forces and is lost to them for pension purposes. There are also several other cases quite different from that mentioned by the hon. member, and these I think might well be considered when the Pension Act is again being amended. For instance, if an officer in the permanent force who graduated from the Royal Military College dies after seventeen years service, his widow and children get no pension, and the service at the college does not count. I will take an opportunity of laying this and other specific cases before the minister.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

I shall be

very glad to receive representations from my hon. friend.

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PRO

Archibald M. Carmichael

Progressive

Mr. CARMICHAEL:

How is the permanent force distributed in regard to provinces? And what is the proportion of money paid to the officers and to the men respectively?

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

The permanent force in Canada consists of the following units: Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lord

Strathcona's Horse-located in Winnipeg- Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, Royal Canadian Engineers, Royal Corps of Signallers, Royal Canadian Regiment, Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry,-also located in Winnipeg-Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, Royal Canadian Medical Corps, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps; also the corps of military staff clerks and the Canadian school of small arms. Altogether there are 324 officers and 2,885 men. There are eleven districts, one each in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, two in Quebec, three in Ontario, and one each in Manitoba, Saskatchewan Alberta and British Columbia.

The permanent force is located in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. A small number of men is attached to the commander of the military district in each of the other provinces.

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

This is a very large item, and sometimes I wonder from the reports I receive whether it is economically spent. I would draw the attention of the minister to the following letter, dated March 15, 1925, received by me from a correspondent in Elkhom, Manitoba:

I wonder if you people down there know what is happening out here in regard to military affairs. We have a very glaring case of mismanagement here, as follows:

A few weeks ago it was arranged to have a military school here at this point. There arrived here an officer and sergeant-major who immediately began to recruit men for the Border Horse, and it is a disgrace the recruits that are being enrolled-boys sixteen years cf age, men that are cripled and ruptured, men with large families who, I feel sure, are over military age. There is no medical examination, if so, it is a farce. There is not 10 per cent of the men enrolled who would be fit to go to war. It looks like a criminal waste of public money, and I think there should be something done in the matter. Every statement in this letter can be proved to be correct. I might state that the people here have christened the outfit, "Cox's Army".

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

That cannot be the permanent force. We have a very well qualified group of medical men in the medical corps. No man is permitted to enter the permanent force until he has passed a very thorough medical examination. What is referred to in the letter must have been for some other purpose altogether. If my hon. friend will send me the communication I will take steps to inquire into the statements made by the writer.

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PRO
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

I do not recall the Border Horse. Certainly it is not a part of the permanent force.

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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

There used to be a regiment of that name before the war in the tenth military district. It was a militia unit.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I have had representations on several occasions from the Winnipeg Musicians' Association with regard to the employment of military bands. I believe there are instructions that these military bands must not enter into competition with civil bands, but it is said that the regulation is evaded in this fashion:

Whenever an employer wants the Princess Pats band the officer obtains a written statement from employer that no other band is considered, and with this covers the point that there is no competition, as no other band is considered.

Supply-Defence

That is clearly an evasion, if it is true, of the regulation. It is stated further that this band takes part in very important and remunerative engagements. It says here that the Princess Pats band officers manipulated this so that their band could take over the exhibition, an engagement for two weeks, and thus shut out the civilian bands. I think all of us in Winnipeg recognize the excellence of the Princess Pats band; there is no question about that whatever. It is a popular band, and as citizens we owe a great deal to it for the services it has rendered. But it does not seem right that a military organization should come into competition in this way with civilian bands and thus put civilians out of the way of earning their living. These are professional musicians who earn their money by playing and I would urge that the regulation be made more stringent so that this competition may be eliminated.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

I am at

present looking into this matter. It was called to my attention by a delegation of musicians who came from Winnipeg.

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PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

Do the military bands make a charge for their services?

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

I assume

they charge when they do work outside.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

It is stated that the chief trouble lies in the fact that the officers of the regiment are without any government contributions toward the upkeep of the band, and so are exploiting the band for creation of these funds.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

In 1919, I think it was, the new scale of pension regulations for officers of the permanent force came into effect. Officers and warrant officers who, though they had had a long service with the Canadian permanent force, retired previous to that date received a much lower scale of pensions than those retiring subsequently. During this session the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) introduced legislation whereby officers and others of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police who had been retired prior to a certain date should be placed in the same category as those now retiring. I think it is only simple justice that those who have served, for instance, in the Northwest rebellion and in the South African war should have their pensions brought up to the same scale as those who have been retired since the recent war. I know the minister cannot introduce any provision for that in the estimates this year or bring down any legislation, but I would ask him to instruct the officers of his department to make some study of the ques-

tion in order that this discrimination may not continue.

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June 24, 1925