Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coalition Government Would Not Deport U.S. War Resisters

MPs Say Canada Should be a Refuge from Militarism

January 21, 2009

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Liberal and New Democrat MPs pledged Wednesday that U.S. war resisters would not be deported under a coalition government.

Five Americans could face deportation by the end of the month unless there's a last-minute court reprieve or an unexpected policy change by the federal government.

Liberal Mario Silva and New Democrat Olivia Chow said their parties would protect war resisters if Stephen Harper's government were to fall after next week's budget.

Silva invoked the words of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who during the Vietnam War said "Canada should be a refuge from militarism."

"To all those brave men and women who have in fact objected to (the Iraq) war we say, bravo. We say welcome, you should be here in Canada," Silva said at a news conference in Toronto, which was attended by several war resisters and their young families.

The House of Commons passed a motion last June 3 calling for a stop to deportations of war resisters and Silva urged the government to respect that vote.

One war resister, Robin Long, has been deported since the vote and was separated from his Canadian partner and infant son. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison in the U.S.
New Democrat Olivia Chow said Canada must stop deporting war resisters and breaking up families.

"We are a nation of compassion and of peace," she said. "We really should not deport war resisters into American jails."

This week, Christopher Teske, 27, lost his last court bid to stay in the country and faces deportation within days.

Teske, who has been living in British Columbia for two years, said in a statement that he's proud of his decision not to take part in the war in Iraq and wishes he could stay in Canada permanently.

Writer Mary Jo Leddy, a member of the Order of Canada, said the trials in Nuremberg after the Second World War established that soldiers are responsible for their actions, and should be allowed to opt out of conflict if they don't believe in the mission.

"The argument that one must follow orders in all circumstances is no longer justified," she said.
"Following orders is no longer the ultimate test of patriotism."