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Showing 1 total results (1 pages) for Arthur Smith court martial:

August 23, 1946


Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

...courts martial. During the war I appeared in quite a number of them, one of which I remember lasted eight days-and perhaps may I say, in my own defence, appearing at all times without fee, as perhaps a little contribution I might make in my own way to the war effort. But in my view the whole system of courts martial is wrong. I am not referring to what an officer in the field may do in respect of those minor things over which he has charge, My suggestion is that in each military district there should be an appointee who would be in the position of judge, and that such appointee would not be in uniform, but would be in civvies. He would have nothing to hope for by way of promotion, because there would be no further opportunity for promotion. Why do I make this suggestion? I have in mind a court martial of an officer holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel. On the court were five officers, two of whom were brigadiers. We had a judge advocate from Victoria- and a very fine one at that. We had a prosecutor from London, Ontario. That court martial lasted eight days, and ended with a reprimand, or exactly the same decision which had been rendered by the district officer commanding in district 13, Brigadier Harvey. I am sure that court martial must have cost the country between $4,000 and $5,000; and I refer to it only by way of example. That court martial had been ordered by the then minister of national defence, Colonel Ralston. The men who comprised the court were fine men, honest men-I have no criticism in that respect at all. But they all had certain ambitions in the army. And no one can tell me that after going through the history of a case, where there has been a court of inquiry and where a district officer has made a decision, following which the court martial has been ordered, the persons sitting in judgment are not going to be affected by those conditions. Unconsciously they will. Let us take another case, comiflg down to lower ranks. We find that a court martial has been held and perhaps an acquittal ordered or a light sentence imposed. I state no secret when I say that it is a custom in the army for the divisional commander, or whatever his rank may be-the person higher up, anyway-to telephone or to send notes saying, for example, "if this thing goes on, discipline will be weakened"-or will disappear. In other words my thought is that justice cannot Supply-Defence-Army be administered properly when, all the time, there is a senior officer back somewhere who is in a position to criticize, and who is always in a position to assist by way of making promotions. On the financial side-and I advance this idea for the minister's consideration-on the financial side I am quite sure that it would not be an added expense. As you know, when senior officers are charged you endeavour to bring in persons not in that area and so the expense adds up. I make the suggestion knowing perfectly well that you cannot do anything about it now. I had about ten experiences with courts martial during this last war; I am not complaining about what they did-that is not the points- but it does seem to me that there is something well worthy of thought and I am inclined to think that the suggestion I have made may be of value. I turn now to something which may not be regarded as being so constructive, the letter from the commissioner of the mounted police.

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