Sunday, June 01, 2008

Let U.S. War Resisters Stay in Canada!

I am told that on Tuesday, June 3 there will be a vote in Parliament on the motion to allow U.S. war resisters who have come to Canada -- that is, U.S. military personnel who have decided that their consciences no longer allow them to serve and who have sought refuge in this country -- to remain here. The motion was introduced by Olivia Chow, NDP Immigration Critic, I think on Thursday. The Conservatives apparently tried to derail the motion by a procedural maneuver, but were defeated by a vote of 121 to 97. There was then debate on the motion. From what I have been told, it comes up for a vote on June 3 at 3 pm.

Please give your MP's office a phone call some time tomorrow to encourage them to be present when the vote occurs and to stand up in favour of allowing U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada. Without soldiers, wars could not happen, so this motion would contribute in a significant way to undermining current and future wars of aggression by the United States. (We will need to engage in other sorts of action to undermine the ongoing Canadian participation in war and occupation, including occupation of indigenous lands in northern North America and the occupation of Afghanistan, of course!)

Here is the latest information from the War Resisters web site:

War Resisters Day of Action - Monday, June 2nd
On Tuesday, June 3rd, at 3 p.m., Canada's Parliament will vote on an historic motion to support U.S. Iraq War Resisters in Canada.

The motion calls on the Government of Canada to stop removal orders against those who refuse to fight in Bush's illegal war in Iraq, and has the support of all three opposition parties. We have an excellent opportunity to win this motion, but we still need your help.

Calls and e-mails are making a difference—and we need to continue to put pressure on the Government to ensure that this historic motion passes.

On Monday June 2nd:

Call and email your local Member of Parliament
Tell them you expect them to support the motion and appear for the vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Click here to find your M.P.'s contact info.

Continue calling and e-mailing:

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley
phone 613.996.4974
fax 613.996.9749
email and

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
phone 613.992.4211
fax 613.941.6900

Tell them you want the Government of Canada to
• rescind the deportation order against US war resister Corey Glass
• support US war resisters, not Bush's war in Iraq
• support the motion to allow Iraq war resisters to remain in Canada


L-girl said...

Thank you for posting this! Thanks for making those phone calls, too. This is a battle we are going to WIN.

Historia said...

I hope this legislation does NOT go through. IF foreign soldiers do not agree with their government then they have 2 choices.
1 - they can resign and NOT be vilunteering, and
2 - they can to live in Canada through LEGAL routes - apply for permanent residency the same way every one else does.

I do NOT agree woth US soldiers CHOOSING to fight in a war being welcomed here just because they are COWARDS. Also they apply as refugees. To be a refugees you must prove a legitimate threat aginst your life. Solders in USA are not being killed. Jailed and proscuted yes. Perscuted no.

I hope this does NOT pass - I do not support it.

If the USA legislates the draft then I will agree with resisters coming here. But right now it is not a draft. They CHOSE to sign up. Its not my problem that they did NOT do their research.

I am a Legal immigrant who spent 5 years in immigration limbo and does not think that anyone else deserves a free handout.

Scott said...

Ahhh, historia...I haven't had any vitriol in response to a post on this site in ages...thank-you!

So. There is a lot of objectionable and misinformed content in your comment...I'm not sure if I can take the time to respond to all of it, but I'll try.

First of all, soldiers can't resign in the sense that you can resign from most jobs -- the U.S. state imposes fairly heavy consequences to make that an unattractive option. So it is hardly that simple. At the same time, the U.S. state also reserves for itself the right to unilaterally change enlistment contracts with no penalties. So it very clearly is not a "normal" circumstance of two equal parties engaged in a mutual contract which either can leave at any time.

Second on the issue of choice: in a lot of cases, it isn't one in any meaningful sense. The vast majority of people in the U.S. military are poor and working-class, with a disproportionate number from communities of colour. In other words, many are people who, through no fault of their own and to the benefit of U.S. elites, have very few choices other than the military. It is, in effect, what has been called the "poverty draft". Add to that the fact that many enlistees have been lied to about what they will get out of the deal.

I would disagree most strenuously with the idea that the war resisters are "COWARDS." Whatever else it might be, taking a step that means possibly never being able to go home again, never see your parents again, never set foot in your own country again, never see your friends again, is a huge and difficult one and hardly the act of a coward. The motivations of the individual resisters vary, of course, but it seems to me that it is a basic moral point that we must support people who come to the realization that they do not want to be in a position to commit murder and other atrocities, or to be killed themselves, no matter at what point they come to this realization. Many, after seeing what serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is really like, realize they have been lied to their whole lives about what war is, what their country does in the world, and so on -- it is a very rough form of consciousness raising that is only naturally going to result in some people taking the moral stand of not wanting to be a part of it. Saying that "they did NOT do their research" is a ridiculous way of individualizing the blame for what is a very social process (in both countries) by which lies that benefit elites get instilled in all of us as common sense.

I would also add the political point that for anyone who opposes the Iraq war, this is a crucial way that Canada can contribute to undermining it. War cannot happen without soldiers. Though it has been largely forced from public consciousness, resistance by GIs in the Vietnam era was one of the crucial ways in which that war came to an end. By providing ways in which GIs can more easily refuse to be part of war and occupation, we are doing at least one small thing to support a more peaceful and just world.

And in terms of the process, I think your objections are kind of silly. It isn't "a free handout" -- the motion calls on the government to create a process. In general, there are certain criteria and certain bureaucratic steps for someone who has no legal standing in this country to gain such legal standing. This motion is calling for the addition of one new criterion, with accompanying process. That's all. It is hardly a "free handout", unless what you got was also a "free handout."

(I should also add that I have more fundamental objections to borders and to settler states exerting colonial control over indigenous lands by claiming the right to regulate movement through them, but I won't get into how I see that to be relevant at the moment...I need to get back to work...)

And, btw, I agree that the refugee process is not the ideal one for this situation -- that's why the government needs to create a new process. Though I do support war resisters who use the refugee claims process until such time as the government does what it needs to do to create a more appropriate process.

Scott said...

Oh...btw, the motion has passed. Exactly what this means in practical terms is not clear at this point, but it is a victory nonetheless.