For more than six years, the Council of Canadians has consistently called on the federal government to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada. We encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament today and ask that they support Bill C-440, legislation that would allow U.S. war resisters to the war in Iraq stay in Canada.
It is expected that on Wednesday September 29, the House of Commons will vote on C-440. Although MPs have already voted to support war resisters, those motions were not binding. This private members bill, introduced by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy and seconded by NDP MP Bill Siksay, would be binding because it would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
To send your message of support for C-440, please go to http://letthemstay.ca/action/email-your-mp/.
As noted in past campaign blogs:
– On June 3, 2008, a War Resisters Support Campaign media release stated, “The Opposition parties in the House of Commons joined together today to adopt a recommendation which, if implemented, would make it possible for U.S. Iraq War resisters to obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada. The recommendation was adopted by a majority of Members of Parliament from the Liberal, Bloc Québécois, and New Democratic Parties. The Conservatives voted against the motion.” The release stated, “The motion, which originated in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in December 2007, calls on the government to ‘immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members…to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and…the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions…against such individuals.’” Bloomberg reported that the vote in the House was 137 to 110.
– On June 27, 2008, it was reported that, “A majority of Canadians would agree with the decision to let American military deserters stay in Canada as permanent residents, a new Angus Reid Strategies survey reveals…In the online survey of a representative national sample, three-in-five Canadians (64%) say they would agree to give these U.S. soldiers the opportunity to remain in Canada as permanent residents.”
– On July 4, 2008, Canadian Press reported, “In a decision released Friday, the Federal Court found the Immigration and Refugee Board had erred in turning down Joshua Key’s claim for asylum…In its decision, the board decided that while Key may have had to violate the Geneva Conventions in Iraq, he could not claim refugee status because he was not required to systematically commit war crimes. Federal Court Justice Robert Barnes disagreed with that analysis. A soldier who refuses to take part in military action which ’systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates’ either combatants or non-combatants might qualify as a refugee, Barnes wrote. ‘Officially condoned military misconduct falling well short of a war crime may support a claim to refugee protection.’”
It should also be remembered that in November 2005, the Council of Canadians presented Jeremy Hinzman with our Activist of the Year award at our annual general meeting. At that time, he said, “I am here tonight to accept this award on behalf of the War Resisters’ Support Campaign. It is not just me, it is not just the other people I am here with – this transcends all of us. It’s about giving people of conscience a safe place to come to and a safe place to make a life where they don’t have to live with the scarlet letter – saying they don’t have to be complicit and stay in an illegal and unjust war, and hence become war criminals.”