Perhaps it may be well to See what the Major General says on this question of armouries. He says :
I have also observed that where rural regiments have been provided with central armouries, there is a decided leaning on the part of commanding officers to gradually convert their commands into city corps, to the very great detriment of the service, for, however good the city regiments may be, the bulk of our defence force must be the hardy men of our rural units, and anything which has a possibility of weakening that portion of the active militia is, in my opinion, greatly to be deprecated
I, therefore, recommend that 'central armouries ' should cease to be provided for rural regiments, and that, in their stead, plain substantial buildings should be hired, as at present, for company armouries at the company headquarters.
Perhaps that would do away with a lot of the promises that are made by the Public Works Department for political purposes to put up buildings throughout the country. I will be very glad indeed if some of the patronage of that department is wiped out by taking away telegraph lines and armouries from it. If the Public Works Department were shorn of a lot of that patronage, we would have less politics in that department.
I would like to ask the hon. Minister of Militia and Defence what the policy of the department is in connection with this matter that the hon. member
for Bast Elgin (Ml-. Ingram) lias spoken about. Some military people in my constituency belonging to the 30th regiment, feel very strongly about this matter. They think it will be most unwise to establish central armouries at the headquarters of the regiment, and I understand that they have communicated that view to the minister. They think it would be a mistake to build a large armoury in the city of Guelph, and this notwithstanding the fact that some of the people holding that view live in the city of Guelph themselves. They spoke to me about it. They expressed the belief that it would be better to provide accommo-* dation at the company headquarters and not at the headquarters of the regiment. When I was home during the recess I was spoken to about it, and I know there is quite, a strong feeling in the regiment that instead of erecting a large building at the headquarters of the regiment the minister should provide accommodation at the company headquarters. Will the minister tell us what his policy is in regard to that matter-?
I agree with the recommendation of the Major General that we should provide armouries, or suitable rooms, at the company headquarters, and on the strength of that recommendation, rifles will be immediately issued to the rural battalions and disposed of in that way. I do not think it will be necessary to construct a building in all cases, perhaps not in many cases, because suitable rooms can be found. That is the policy which has been adopted.
I understand that about a month ago a delegation from Montreal composed of the officers of the Montreal regiments came up to Ottawa and urged the establishement of a military school. Has any progress been made in that connection ?
I will have to refer my hon. friend (Mr. Lemieux), I think, to the hon. Minister of Public Works, as well as my hon. friend from Toronto (Mr. Clarke). As a matter of fact, what my hon. friend says is quite correct, and I may say to him that I consider it a matter of importance that there should be a depot established at the most important centre of trade and population in Canada, Montreal. The matter has not been fully discussed yet, and I think it would be premature to say what would be done this year.
I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Militia and Defence to the report of the chief engineer of his department respecting military buildings. This report is very pregnant now, and if the recommendation which the chief engineer made were carried out we would know whom to hold responsible for the unreasonable delays which have occurred. The report says : '
The present system by which the Public Works Department construct all military buildings is very unsatisfactory, and considerable trouble and delay is occasioned thereby. I would strongly urge the necessity of having the construction, as well as the maintenance. and repairs of these buildings under the charge of the engineer branch of the Department of Militia and Defence.
Might I ask the minister : What is the
policy of the department respecting this recommendation ? Has the government decided to carry it out or not ?
I have already stated that I have no hesitation in saying that I believe that it would be in the public interest to have the construction of military buildings under the control of the Militia Department. So far no action has been taken with reference to that.
through in very short order if absolutely necessary. There is a good opportunity for doing so just now. I find that the chief superintendent of stores also makes a report in reference to the condition of military store buildings which emphasizes the necessity for a change in the present method of constructing and maintaining militia buildings. This officer says on page three of his report:
Reference is requested to recommendations on this subject, in previous reports. New store buildings are urgently required in Toronto and Kingston. Those now in use are constructed of wood, very old, and in constant need of repair. No proper care can be taken of the valuable material stored in them.
I would remind the Minister of Militia and Defence that so deficient is the military store accommodation in the city of Toronto, that some of the municipal buildings have been given to the department in which to store valuable military supplies. In view of the reports made by the superintendent of military stores, and by the chief engineer of the department, this matter should be immediately given attention to. We should be able to hold some minister responsible for the unreasonable delay in completing the drill shed in Toronto. Now that the attention of the Minister of Militia and Defence has been called to the matter, and now that he has assumed a reasonable measure of responsibility, I trust that we shall have no more cause for complaint.
I do not find any mention of that particular matter but as this is a general vote it is possible to use it for urgent purposes as they arise. I shall be very glad to look into the matter to see if what the hon. gentleman (Mr. Blain) refers to lias been recommended, or whether it will still 'be required under the changed conditions to which I have referred as to the distribution of arms to the country companies.
Militia-Provisions, supplies and remounts, $130,000.
I want to say a word on a subject somewhat cognate to this vote. The system which has been carried out by Major Dent heretofore in purchasing remounts has not given satisfaction, although I believe that he is now making a change which will be more likely to meet with approval than the original system. At first remounts were purchased generally through one party, and if rumour can be relied upon that party made a great deal of money and did very little work. Those who purchased horses and brought them to Toronto complain that they were obliged to sell them through Grand's old firm, which had a substantial rake off on every animal purchased. The result was that the buyer was obliged to purchase them at a very low figure, and he could not get as good a class of horses on account of the low prices. He was obliged to sell them to this firm and the firm for doing nothing at all, except perhaps supplying a suitable place for the inspection of the horses, made a substantial rake off. While the Militia Department here may have no control over the matter, yet we have always believed that if they made representations to the War Office that it would be more in their interest and in the interest of the people of Canada if a different system were adopted, that representation would be attended to. It would be a much better plan to have the horses sent to the exhibition grounds in Toronto where they could be inspected at certain dates and purchased if found suitable. In this way a better class of animals would be supplied at a lower cost to the War Department, and our farmers would get better prices. I notice of late that there is greater latitude allowed to the buyers of horses, and so far that this is an improvement. I hold that there should be the greatest freedom in this matter, and even the individual farmer should be able to send his animals to Toronto and have them examined and purchased direct from him. That system would be better for the Imperial authorities, and the farmers of Ontario would get a better price for their animals.
As the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sproule) says : This is not our concern nor do I think it would be advisable for us to offer advice unless it were asked. When my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture was in England last year he had an opportunity of discussing this very question with the War Office, and he and I have been trying to induce the Imperial authorities to establish regular and permanent remount stations in this country for the purchase of horses. Up to this date nothing has been done, but I hope that something may be done, in which case officers of either the Department of Agriculture or of my own de-jjartment would deal directly with the people. It has been suggested that fairs might be- held, not necessarily at Toronto, but at country centres once a month, to which horses might be brought, and that men should be sent out to select the horses on the spot. I hope something of that kind will grow out of the negotiations now going on.
That would be preferable, for this reason, that a large percentage of the horses sent to Toronto are culled out, and they have either to be put up at auction and sold at whatever they will bring, or else are left on the buyer's hands. If he sells them, he is obliged to take a lower price than the animal is worth if bought at home, besides paying the cost of sending them there.
That is quite true, and I think the amount of money which these dealers have been credited with having made is altogether incorrect. As my hon. friend says, they have had left on their hands a large number of horses which they could not dispose of or had to sell at auction at very low figures, which has eaten up a very large part of -the profit.