February 26, 1912 (12th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)


After listening carefully to the remarks of my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) I must confess that I was unable to hear one word that would show any justification for holding up the House during this discussion unless it be the urgent need of advertisement for the

Sutherland sight or the Ross rifle. I would join my hon. friend in one respect and ask the Minister of Militia when making his appeal to the Home authorities to do one further thing, to take steps not merely to protect the rights of our marksmen in the old country but also-and I make this request in all sincerity-to take the necessary and proper steps to protect the reputation of Canada, which, rightly or wrongly, has suffered very much in the old country owing to the conduct of some people in connection with the use of the Ross rifle at the Bisley ranges. I am not here to make charges, I am here to state facts and I state that not only in England but in Canada there are a great many people who very gravely doubt the truth of a certificate given by the late Minister of Militia at a time when a question was raised on the Bisley range as to the use of the Ross rifle, and I venture to think if some of the marksmen from Canada who have been interfered with, as apparently they have been from the declarations read, could investigate to the bottom of their troubles, they would find in all probability that the reason they were interfered with was the want of confidence on the part of people in the old country in the honesty of Canadians in using the particular Ross rifle they were then using and representing it as the service rifle in use in Canada. The Minister of Militia says that the Ross rifle, is the noblest arm this world has ever seen, and I am not ready at this moment to contradict him-but he must remember that he used almost the same language in describing the primitive Ross rifle which was so hopelessly stupidly conceived that the Militia Council declined to receive it until five or six changes had been made, and although it was foisted on the country at an enormous expense, some $600,000 before 30 of them were delivered to the militia, 90 changes had to be made before it could be accepted. The Ross rifle that is being used at Bisley is a long barrelled rifle. There is one rifle called the Ross rifle with a long barrel and another with a short barrel. It was stated in England and I believe in Canada that there were practically no Ross rifles in use in Canada of the style then used on the Bisley ranges. There were Ross rifles with short barrels but the great advantage of the Ross rifle, as has always been alleged in this House and in the investigations was its lightness, whereas the rifle for target practice was too heavy to be an effective service rifle, and I am informed that it was not the service rifle in Canada, that our troops were not armed with it, that it was not known in Canada unless possibly a favoured individual here or there had been pre-fsented with one. Under those circumstances a question arose at Bisley as to whether Canada would be allowed to shoot Mr. NORTHRTTP.
with a rifle that might not comply with the requirement that it should be a service rifle. A certificate was given by Sir Frederick Borden, then Minister of Militia for Canada over his own signature that the rifle used there, the long-barrelled Ross rifle, was the service rifle used in Canada. I am appealing to the Minister of Militia to take the trouble to ascertain and give the House a statement showing how many rifles of that character were purchased and how many had been distributed to the militia of Canada at that date. That information might go a long way towards removing a very serious suspicion both in England and Canada that the so-called Ross rifle used at Bisley, while certainly manufactured by the Ross Rifle Company, and while no doubt an excellent rifle as proved by its shooting, was not a rifle that should be used there by honest competitors because it was not a service rifle. I have not a word to say against this rifle which has been so well advertised, but I would like for the reputation of Canada that these grievances of militiamen in Canada should be thoroughly investigated, and the suspicions cleared away by seeing whether or not the long barrelled rifle manufactured by the Ross Rifle Company was then or is now in the hands of the militia of Canada.

Topic:   W. J. CLIFFORD.
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