February 14, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


Gerald Grattan McGeer



Mr. Chairman, the principle of financing our militia by private means is thoroughly unsound. The militia should be considered as definitely under the control of the national government. I happen to have had the experience of being told by militia officers in Vancouver that a number of men could not turn out for the parade held on the occasion of the celebration of the king's jubilee because they were not equipped with shoes in which to march. I was told that this equipment was being supplied through contributions made by the officers, but the depression had hit the officers and their contributions were no longer available. If Canada has fallen to such a pitiful level that she cannot maintain her militia, then it is nearly time to close out this particular service. If this service is to be maintained by private contributions, the inevitable end will be the establishment of private armies in the dominion, to the disaster of the country. Armouries have been built with funds provided by private enterprise, and we are paying five and six per cent interest on this money. The building of these armouries should be an obligation upon this dominion, and I think the time has arrived when we should recognize the militia as a worthy unit of the institutions that form the fabric of the government of the dominion. Our armouries should be built by the government, and the government should supply the necessary funds to equip the men. The pitiful weakness of our whole scheme of government seems to stand out. We are a nation rich in natural resources; we have no standing army and we have no naval obligations, but in the matter of militia we have probably the lowest standard of any country in the British empire. It is a sorry reflection

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upon the administration of public affairs when we have to maintain our militia by means of contributions from the officers and other private individuals. I have been informed that the Seaforth cadets in Vancouver receive a contribution from the national government of only one dollar each per year. As one officer told me, this is equivalent to the cost of one belt for each cadet. This is only one of innumerable instances. Whatever militia service we intend to have should be maintained without resort to the unnecessarily costly system of assistance by private enterprise.

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