March 19, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


We are told that the Foreign Enlistment Act passed by the parliament of the United Kingdom in 1870 extends to Canada. I submit that the government might have done one of three things. They might simply have repealed that act as far as it extends to Canada; or they might have reenacted it just as it stood, as applying to Canada; or they might have improved upon it. In my opinion the bill as drawn is no improvement upon the British act; rather in addition to the principle underlying the British act it introduces one or two other principles that make it quite involved.
We are in favour of what I think is the principle of the bill, at least the principle of the British act, that is, to prohibit military assistance to the enemies of a friendly state. The explanatory note to section 3, which I take it indicates the principle of the bill, reads:
This section makes it unlawful for a Canadian national to enlist anywhere, or for any person within Canada to induce any other person to enlist in the case of a foreign war, for service against a friendly state.
This undoubtedly involves control over our own nationals, and though we have not had many occasions on which to assert that control, I suggest that on the whole we must concede that at any rate, when the actions of Canadian nationals may involve us in international complications, the state must take control, or assume some power over their actions. The bill provides-I am inclined to think this is the original bill

for certain permits. Let me read section 3:
If any person, without a permit, being a Canadian national, within or without Canada, accepts or agrees to accept any commission or

Foreign Enlistment-Mr. Woodsworth
engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state at war with any friendly foreign state, or, whether a Canadian national or not, within Canada, induces any other person to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in any such armed forces, such persons shall be guilty of an offence under this act.
This idea of permits is carried into the other sections as well. By this provision for permits I suggest that the government is given power virtually to nullify the purpose of the bill by allowing the very things which it is intended to prohibit. It must be noted that the bill itself makes no reference whatever to the conditions under which such permits may be issued.

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