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Winnipeg chapter supports Joshua Key and all U.S. war resisters in Canada

Key familyThe Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter is working to stop the deportation of war resister Joshua Key. He lives in Winnipeg with his Canadian wife and three children, but the federal government won’t issue him a work permit and the provincial government won’t give him health coverage.

Yesterday, the chapter tweeted, “Watching ‘Path to Glory’ at the Hive at #UofW in support of #JoshuaKey #WarResister http://vimeo.com/114480000 #LetThemStay” Last May, the chapter also co-sponsored a Living in Limbo fundraiser for Key and his family.

Today, the Toronto Star reports, “It’s been more than a decade since U.S. soldiers began to trickle across the border and declare themselves conscientious objectors to the war in Iraq… But [now supporters of the war resisters are] gearing up once again after a flurry of negative decisions in immigration cases from September to December. Eight applications from war resisters to stay in Canada as permanent residents, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds as well as spousal sponsorships, were denied. Four war resisters have received removal orders, including one last month.”

“Key, who was born in Oklahoma, served as a combat engineer in Iraq in 2003. He deserted the army while on a two-week furlough and fled to Canada in 2005, when he applied for refugee status. His request was denied in 2006, but a federal court judge ordered the refugee board to review his bid for asylum. In 2010, he was rejected again and applied for spousal sponsorship with his Canadian wife. The negative decisions have renewed fears that Key’s spousal sponsorship application could be turned down any day. If sent back, Key, like other soldiers who have spoken out about their opposition to the war in Iraq, will probably face a court martial, a felony conviction and jail time, a harsh penalty compared to other deserters, who are typically given an administrative discharge.”

The article highlights, “The Conservative government has been vocally opposed to granting war resisters refugee or permanent residence status…” The NDP support the war resisters staying in Canada, but the Liberals haven’t yet taken a position on the issue.

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 Canada, with an action alert. That bill was defeated by a 7 vote margin in the House of Commons in September 2010.

Take action!

To send an email to Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Chris Alexander, Minister of Public Safety Stephen Blaney, and your MP in support of U.S. Iraq War Resisters, please click here. The sample message provided says, “I urge you to immediately cease deportation proceedings against all remaining U.S. war resisters in Canada, and to withdraw Operational Bulletin 202 [which instructs immigration officers to treat U.S. war resister cases differently and states they may be ‘criminally inadmissible’ to Canada], which has prejudiced their immigration proceedings.”

The Council of Canadians continues to call on the Harper government to welcome U.S. war resisters in Canada, rather than treating them as criminals.

Photo: Joshua Key and family.