April 15, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


Charles Smith Hyman


Mr. CHARLES S. HYMAN (London).

I would hardly like the discussion of this matter to leave, either with the House or with the people, the idea that only those who are officers in the militia or who, like my hon. friend from Victoria, N.S., (Hon. Mr. Ross) have been Ministers of Militia, take an interest in the question. As a layman, I may say that I am extremely interested in the debate brought forward by the hon. member for Victoria, B.C., (Hon. Mr. Prior), and I desire to express my hearty concurrence in the idea that there should be a proper and satisfactory retiring allowance made for the officers and men of the permanent corps of Canada, upon such lines as the government may find it best to adopt. I feel perfectly safe in saying that the hon. minister, if he does introduce a Bill of that character, will receive the hearty support of this side of the House, and I am glad to know, from what has been stated by hon. gentlemen on the other side, that there is every reason to believe that he will receive the almost unanimous concurrence of the other side. If we desire to build up a proper system of militarism- if I may use that term-in Canada, it is necessary that we should enlist the very best of the young men of this country. It is necessary that they should be men of good character, it is necessary that they should be men of brains, it is necessary that they should be men of good physique. And, after we have used the best years of their lives in the service of the country, it does seem to me that it is not in accordance with what ought to be if we turn them out like old horses to die or live as they may. It is the law of the land that there is a retiring allowance for the civil servants ; and I hold that there is even greater reason for a law giving an allowance on the retirement of those who have served the country as members of the permanent military force, either as officers or as privates. I quite agree with a great deal of what has been said with regard to the 95J
expenditure which is necessary on the part not only of the officers, but of the noncommissioned officers and men of the permanent force while they are members of that force. I speak whereof I know when I say that it is almost impossible for them, when they are in the permanent force, to maintain themselves. I know, not one case only but several cases, of officers, men high in rank, who, after they had been retired owing to age, have had actually to accept, I might say almost menial service for the rest of their lives, and I do not think that is in accordance with the wishes of the people of Canada ; and I think it has only to be laid before the House and the people for them to appreciate the fact, and to stand behind the minister, if he sees fit to introduce this Bill. If there is one thing with which I might find fault with the military system of Great Britain it would be with the well-known fact, that only those possessed of private means can accept and hold commissions in regiments of the line, or in any branch of the service. In Canada we should not confine our enlistment of men to serve their country in the permanent force to those who have private incomes, and who are able, in a financial sense, to accept the small pay offered to the members of that force. I think it should be free to every young Canadian who desires to serve his country, and who is otherwise qualified to accept the position and, after he has got past the best years of his life, he should not be turned aside, but some provision should be made for him in his old age. I do not know what the provision of the Bill will be, nor do I desire to make any extended remarks ; but, when the Bill comes forward, 1 hope it will be received by both sides in no spirit of partyism, but will be dealt with simply from the point of view of the interest of the permanent force. And I do not know anything that will more forward that interest and the interest of the militia of Canada than the introduction of such a Bill and its enactment into law.

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