That depends entirely on the definition of "armed forces." If we want to preserve the right to any country to send medical units to render humanitarian services, we can do so by dealing with paragraph (c) of section 2, rather than leaving in the words "without permit," which would cover military units.
With reference to the suggestion of the hon. member to the effect that medical men looking after the wounded are not treated as combatants, may I refer to a clear example in the late war, about which I happened to know. I refer to Doctor Beland, who was a member of the Laurier government and of the House of Commons. When war was declared he was in Belgium, and he remained there. First he looked after Belgian wounded, and then, when the Germans came to Belgium, he went on with his work in the hospitals, helping the German wounded. Eventually, however, he was taken to Berlin and put into prison. Why? Because he had been a minister of the crown in Canada-at least, that was the reason given. Although he was not a combatant, and under international rules of war should not have been taken prisoner, he was imprisoned in Berlin and kept there for several
years, during which time he was badly treated. So the hon. member is entirely wrong when he suggests that a medical man looking after the wounded may not be treated as a combatant.
Mr. Chairman, I might as well deal with the matter immediately, because it is an important one. At the proper time we are going to move that paragraph (c) of section 2 be amended to read:
(c) "Armed forces" includes military, naval and air forces or services, combatant or noncombatant, but shall not include medical, nursing and other services engaged solely in humanitarian work, and which are under the control or supervision of the Canadian Red Cross Society or other recognized Canadian humanitarian society.
Canada is a party to the international convention for the amelioration of the condition of the: sick and wounded in armies in the field. The Canadian ratification of this convention was deposited on February 20, 1933. Article 11 reads as follows:
A recognized society of a neutral country can only afford the assistance of its medical personnel and formations to a belligerent with the previous consent of its own government and the authorization of the belligerent concerned.
The belligerent who accepts such assistance is bound to notify the enemy thereof before making any use of it.
I think it is important that such medical units be under the control of the Red Cross, that relief of the suffering be impartial and that it apply not only to one side. The wounded in both sides of a conflict suffer. All who want to take part in the work of the Red Cross in a country where there is a war, civil or otherwise, should certainly be under the supervision and control of the Red Cross, to which there could be no objection. We want to remain outside these conflicts, and in any humanitarian work we want to deal equally with both sides.
Then there is a further reason for taking this stand. When collections of money are sought for only one side of the conflict, the requests are always accompanied by information showing only one side of the difficulty, a condition which I do not think is in accord with the spirit of neutrality. We must encourage anything humanitarian in scope, anything which will alleviate suffering, but I believe the work of Canadians who may want to devote themselves to the noble work of the Red Cross should be done impartially. Instead of having the word
"Canada" on the cars and trucks, pictures of which I have seen in the papers, I believe the words "Red Cross" should appear. For these reasons, when we reach paragraph (c) I am going to move the amendment I have suggested.
Is the bill wide enough to cover enlistment in the Spanish civil war? I can see that it would prevent persons from enlisting on the side of the so-called rebels, but I cannot see that it would prevent enlistment to serve the government of Spain, if there is such a thing.
Section 19 of the bill will give to the governor in council power to extend and to apply provisions of the act, with the necessary modifications, to any case in which there is a state of armed conflict, civil or otherwise, either within a foreign country or between foreign countries. An order of the governor in council, by virtue of the provisions of the bill would apply to both sides of the conflict.
It was to stand until we decided about the permit.
Mr. 'CAHAN: There is one other phase
which might be considered. The exception made by the new definition suggested by the minister does not apply in the case of Canadian nationals who may enter the medical or surgical service of one of the countries at war.
to which the Red Cross does not effectively intervene and I am suggesting that there are cases where it should be within the power of the government of Canada, through official channels, to give a permit or a licence to a thoroughly qualified Canadian to enter the surgical or medical service of one of the combatants for strictly humanitarian purposes. I still urge that the word "permit" be retained in section 3.
I think we were all helped considerably by the address of the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan). He pointed out the absence in our laws of a definition of a Canadian national. I appreciate the difficulty in arriving at such a definition and I should like to ask the Minister of Justice to let us have the wording of the corresponding section in the British Foreign Enlistment Act, 1870.
Of course that is a fairly well defined term. With the section standing, would it not be possible for the minister to draft a definition of a Canadian national, either complete in itself or by reference to some other act? This would clear up the matter and make prosecutions more successful.