The Issues Crystallize

Canadians in Battle

Canadian Recruitment Restrictions

Their recruitment did not please everyone. The anti-imperialists had not altered their views, and a number of imperialists were incensed to note that the emerging Canadian identity was completely eclipsed as soon as the policemen were signed up. Nonetheless the success of these mounted troops encouraged other Canadians to offer their services at the front lines. Lieutenant-Colonel A. Denison and Major William Hamilton Merritt both proposed the formation of fresh mounted contingents for South Africa. The War Office greeted these plans with enthusiasm, subject to the usual conditions. At length, Merritt's scheme of 29 December 1900 was accepted by the British. Assuming that he had the support of his own government, Merritt began assembling his unit. He had not reckoned, however, on the scars the police affair had left on the minds of the politicians, who prevented him from going any further until a clear policy had been agreed on for Canadian participation. On 13 May 1901 a set of conditions was finally produced, which can be summarized as follows: All requests for the recruitment of Canadians would be addressed to the government of Canada; only the minister of militia and defence could raise troops and designate their officers, even for temporary units of the type fighting in South Africa; as a rule, these officers would be chosen from the permanent force; it was prohibited for anyone to recruit police in Canada. 41