I might say, have been pared down to a point as low as is compatible with national safety; in fact, I have been criticized quite severely for some of the reductions. I think it is well that Parliament should discuss this question. Our militia force was not a mushroom or accidental growth, it took a good many years of development before Canada became of sufficient importance and exercised autonomy to such a marked degree that she undertook her own militia defence. The matter was discussed in the Imperial Parliament on several occasions, and it is a well-known fact that not a few of the members of the British House of Commons and some members of the British cabinet opposed Canada being allowed-if I may put it in that form-to have, control of her militia, because it was feared that it would tend to encourage the idea of too great independence and would weaken the tie that binds us to the Motherland. That fear, of course, has been dispelled, because the principle enunciated by Lord Grey as far back as 1851 has been fully borne out by our subsequent history, namely, that the greater the responsibility you place on what might be called the subordinate body, the stronger becomes its attachment to the head. So it has been with the Dominion, as year by year she has developed, greater responsibility has been placed upon her to manage her own affairs, and instead of the tie that binds us to the Motherland being weakened, that
so far as that. My hon. friend is a military man, and he is confronting me with a technique that I am not familiar with. It would be a reduction of the units in various parts of the Dominion, and a rearrangement under a new plan. As I was pointing out, now that we have assumed the status of a nation we must carry on those departments which are incident to that status. Hon. gentlemen have said to
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me: Why spend money on the militia, seeing that it is non-productive? I reply: Why spend money on fire insurance when it is non-productive? Let there be disorder in any part of the Dominion that the Militia Department is unable to cope with, and immediately we would be criticized because we were unprepared to meet the emergency. Could we, Mr. Chairman, let it be known throughout the entire world that Canada is a country where the militia is ineffective, where the mounted police is to be reduced almost to the vanishing point, where the naval service is to be of little account, and where the flying force is not to function? We would become the mecca of a class of people that would not be desirable in the best interests of the country. It is our duty, even though the militia be not productive, to maintain it at sufficient strength to preserve order and good government within the Dominion. The militia is not productive, but it is highly protective, and if it were not for this force Canada would not be in the position she occupies to-day.
I wanted to make these few observations because as a nation we are at the present time looking forward to standing side by side with the other nations of the world. If we are to realize our aspirations, we must accept the responsibilities that go with those aspirations and be prepared to carry on our share of defence work as part of the British Empire, and that share, so far as the militia is concerned, is provided for in the estimates I am now presenting.
Does the minister mean that he is going to increase the militia expenditure in this country under present conditions, when people want to get back to a peace basis and are desirous that the militia should be cut down practically to an infinitesimal point?
The estimates are not being increased; they are being decreased. So far as the amount is concerned; if we compare this year with 1913-1914, when we were on a peace basis, the estimates this year are less; and if you take into account the present purchasing power of the dollar as compared with 1911-1912, I submit the estimates presented to-day are less than they were that year.
I might point out to the hon. member that there are two branches of the force, the permanent force and the volunteers. The $100,000 which my hon. friend mentions is for the volunteer force, which is not, strictly speaking, the militia.
It is exactly the same, but we have reduced the amount for annual drill by $100,000. There is also this to be taken into consideration. After the war there was a good deal of clothing on hand, but as that is used up more is required. More clothing may be required in certain lines one year than another. For instance, we have stocks on hand now of certain lines, but in other lines our stock is diminishing.
I am not averse to discussing all the items now, but answering first my hon. friend from West Toronto (Mr. Hocken), if he will look at the increase he suggested in the item for clothing and necessaries, he will find that it is merely a cross-entry, a simple matter of bookkeeping. It is a decrease in war-like stores, transferred from one account to the other.
I want to congratulate the minister for having made a reduction in the estimates as compared with last year.
I think he is entitled to some credit for giving us this evidence of economy on the part of his department. At the same time it is only fair to say that I have an objection to register, and it is that the reduction is not sufficient. Without going into details of these items, which I presume will be taken up separately, I should like for a moment to compare the estimates of this department with the amount of less than $5,000,000 asked for by the Department of Agriculture, which is the fundamental and basic industry of this country. I know very well that you cannot always very
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reasonably compare these estimates under the circumstances. But take the estimates of other departments of the Government.
I find that the Health Department, for instance, is asking something under $1,000,000; Administration of Justice, slightly over $2,000,000; Immigration and Colonization, slightly over $2,000,000,-and I think no one will under-estimate the value and significance of the work for which that estimate is being asked,-Fisheries, slightly over $1,000,000; Mines, slightly over $500,000; Labour Department, the main estimates for which are something under $1,500,000; Dominion Lands and Parks, almost $5,000,000; Soldiers' Land Settlement, approximately $12,000,000; and finally, may I just mention the estimates for the Department of Trade and Commerce which total slightly over $3,000,000. I think in comparison with these other necessary and fundamental departments of government, the estimate for the Militia Department is out of all proportion. I realize, of course, the necessity for maintaining in this country not only a militia, but a Militia Department, properly staffed and properly officered, and I have nothing to say with regard to the efficiency and effectiveness of our miltia. I think perhaps it is true, as the minister has stated, that the militia generally has served satisfactorily; but I do think in view of the estimates for other departments of government, there should be a very substantial reduction in the militia estimates, especially as we have just come through a long war, and have had a conference at Washington on the limitation of armaments, and particularly in view of the very difficult economic conditions that prevail throughout this country. I do not propose to move any amendment, but I want to urge upon the minister the necessity for doing something far more substantial than he has done in reducing the estimates of his department.
I should like to say a word on the question of the total amount which the minister is asking for on this occasion, and the remarks which have fallen from my hon. friend from West Calgary (Mr. Shaw), that they show a substantial decrease from the vote of last year.
The vote of last year was $11,954,000, and the total expenditure until 31st March this year, I think I am safe in saying, was under $10,250,000. I have not received the figures yet, but from my knowledge of the department up till the end of December and from estimates I have been able to make
since, I think I am within the mark when I say that $10,250,000 will cover every dollar that was spent last year. This year it is proposed to expend $10,788,000. So the reduction is rather more apparent than real, is it not, Mr. Chairman? However, under all the circumstances which we have in Canada to-day, if we are going to maintain a militia force in this country that is to be of any practical use, I do not believe that the minister can cut very much below the figure he has submitted to the House on the present occasion. I am inclined to think that in some instances his figures are too low; in some others perhaps they may be slightly too high. But it is not correct to say that Canada is one of the nations which is engaged in extravagant military expenditure. I went to some pains just a year ago to make a comparison as between Canada and every other country in the world, just to see what we were spending and how our expenditure compared with our neighbours. My hon. friends who are inclined to be critical can go to any country on the face of the glohe, civilized or uncivilized, they can inquire in Europe, in Asia, in America North or South, and they will find that comparison shows that Canada is a long way below the lowest of them in all classes of expenditure on armaments-so far below the lowest that one is almost ashamed to make the comparison. These figures were all submitted by experts to a Financial Conference held in Brussels in October, 1921. The figures are accurate, they were submitted as a result of a call by the League of Nations; and in every comparison you make, the expenditure in this country for military purposes is almost nothing as compared with similar expenditure by our nearest neighbour whether it be a British Dominion or whether it be an independent country. The charge that we are extravagant in this respect, is entirely unfounded, if you compare our expenditure with what any other nation in the world is doing. Now, I submit that the minister has cut these estimates to just about as low a figure as he can go. There may be some details, perhaps, that will stand some paring down; but on the whole I doubt very much if he can go any lower without actually injuring the service.