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Trudeau considers letting U.S. war resisters stay in Canada

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow in a 2008 video calling on the Canadian government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada.

The Council of Canadians joins with the War Resisters Support Campaign in calling on the Trudeau government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada.

The Canadian Press reports, “The Liberal government is reviewing Canada’s stance on American war dodgers who have sought refuge in this country rather than fight in Iraq, Prime Minister Trudeau said Friday [May 6]. Trudeau, however, gave no commitments that Ottawa might smooth the path to permanent residency for the conscientious objectors, some of whom have been forced to return to the U.S. to face prison terms, but said the issue was a live one. ‘It’s one that we are looking into actively as a government’, Trudeau said after a transit-funding announcement in Toronto.”

The article adds, “Outside the transit yard where Trudeau was speaking, a handful of protesters from the War Resisters Support Campaign quietly held up a banner and signs calling on the government to let them stay. Last summer, a campaigning Trudeau criticized the Conservative government under former prime minister Stephen Harper for acting in a way he called ‘lacking compassion and lacking understanding’ when it came to the American soldiers. ‘I am supportive of the principle of allowing conscientious objectors to stay’, Trudeau said at the time.”

The U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 and officially ended on December 18, 2011. During that period, between 34,144–37,344 Iraqis and 4,491 American soldiers were killed. In September 2004, then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, “From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it [the war] was illegal.” The International Commission of Jurists found that the invasion of Iraq was neither in self-defence against armed attack nor sanctioned by a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force by member states and thus constituted the crime of war of aggression.

The Council of Canadians has long called on the Harper government to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.

In November 2005, we presented our Activist of the Year award to war resister Jeremy Hinzman who accepted it on behalf of all war resisters in Canada. We also supported Bill C-440, legislation that would have allowed war resisters to stay in this country, with an action alert, numerous blogs and participation in protests. That bill was defeated by a 7 vote margin in the House of Commons in September 2010. Our Winnipeg chapter has been particularly active in working to stop the deportation of war resister Joshua Key. The federal government has not issued Key a work permit and the provincial government won’t give him health coverage.

About 15 war resisters are seeking to gain status in Canada.

To write the federal Minister of Immigration John McCallum to stop litigation against U.S. Iraq War resisters, please go to the War Resisters Support Campaign website here.