fortifications would be one example. Then, certain kinds of weapons have a life of twenty years or more. Certain ships would be included-possibly destroyers-with a life of, say, twenty years. In fact the term would include anything not to be expended in the ordinary process of carrying on from year to year.
let us consider a gun, or some type of artillery which in peace time would have a life of five years. Would the department limit the amortization of that item to five years, or would it take the general figure of twenty years or ten years, and make out a general amortization in that way? If it is not done in that way, how is it done?
general amortization period is ten years, but it is quite possible that some of the more durable articles would extend over twenty-five, thirty, forty or, in the case of fortifications, possibly to a hundred years.
Yes, this amount of something over $3,000,000 represents the amount the department pays. But the different units throughout Canada are continually purchasing supplies from England and other countries.
and they, too, are paying large sums in duties. I think the chief objection has been to the duties paid by individual units. Has any representation been made to the customs branch in an attempt to have either the duties cancelled or considerably reduced? These charges are a great burden on the militia units throughout the country. I believe the excuse offered is that the goods can be purchased in Canada. Theoretically that may be true, but practically I believe it is not true. In order to get the necessary equipment, that which they consider best, the units have to go outside of Canada. I suggest that a careful survey be made by the militia branch in an effort to have these duties lowered or cancelled so far as they apply to militia units struggling along on a very small amount of money.
If the hon. member for Royal could see the correspondence I have he would be immediately assured that the Department of National Defence is taking every possible step to carry out his suggestion. The only possible remedy we have at the present moment is by way of rebate, and in the last two years this has been granted in several cases. In regard to the general question of uniforms, there are two points of view. There is the point of view put forward by the hon. member, with which I sympathize, and there is the point of view of the Canadian citizen who produces uniforms in Canada. He would naturally object to the abolition of the duty on uniforms imported from the mother country, for example. I can assure my hon. friend this matter has been actively before the government, but so far the representations which he is advancing have not been successful.
This thing has happened not once but several times in Hamilton. In some cases rebates were applied for but were refused. I brought the matter up last year in the debate on the speech from the throne, and on the defence estimates earlier this session, and I bring it up again to-day. It seems to me it is something that could be arranged. A penalty should not be placed on the head of a man who wants to be a good citizen.
I should like to supplement the remarks of the hon. member for Hamilton West and the hon. member for Royal. The government should give serious consideration to these cases. As the minister knows, many of these militia officers are making monetary sacrifices, as well as giving considerable time and hard work to building up their units. They should receive consideration from the government, and certainly they should not have to pay duty on goods which are not produced in Canada. No sales tax should be charged on goods they buy in Canada for their own units out of their own pockets.
I desire to support what has been said in connection with securing rebates or the cancellation of the duty. As an example, I should like to cite what occurred in my own town. It was decided to form a Highland band. There is no regiment there, but by public subscription and through contributions made by friends of the same race and others kindly disposed, sufficient money was collected to clothe the band. Uniforms
were ordered as well as band equipment, and when they arrived there was a heavy bill of duty to be paid. A rebate was applied for, but unfortunately it was not granted. It seems to me that in cases of this kind there should be a uniform ruling that rebates will be allowed or that the duty will be taken off. As the minister already knows, there is a strong body of public opinion in favour of action of this kind. The loss of revenue would be quite small, the expense to those immediately interested being out of all proportion to the revenue derived. I know the minister is interested in this matter and I hope he will be able to follow it up with some success and obtain either a rebate in each case or cancellation of the duty.
While I sympathize to a certain extent with the views expressed by the leader of the opposition and other members on the other side of the house, nevertheless I do know that considerable military equipment is made in Canada, especially woollen military cloth, which is made in Brantford. Very good tartans are now being made in Brantford and other parts of Canada, and being a Scotsman I do not like to have to pay a duty on kilts.