US war dodgers allowed to stay in Canada

June 4th, 2008 - 12:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, June 4 (IANS) The Canadian parliament Tuesday passed a motion to let American war resisters to stay permanently in the country. Most of these US soldiers, who call themselves conscientious objectors, defected to Canada when they were ordered to fight in Iraq. Many say they were being sent to the war zone for the second time.

After the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear their case last November, the opposition New Democratic Party and other groups have been fighting to stop their deportation back to the US.

Tuesday, the House of Commons overwhelmingly supported a motion moved by NDP leader Olivia Chow which she said “reflected ordinary Canadians’ belief that George Bush’s war in Iraq is wrong and that resisters should not be deported to jail”.

The motion called on the Canadian government to allow all the American war resisters and their immediate family members to stay in Canada permanently.

The government was also asked to immediately withdraw any removal or deportation orders against war resisters.

“Ordinary Canadian people want the Iraq war resisters to stay. The Harper Conservatives (Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party) must respect this and immediately implement this motion,” Chow said in while moving her motion.

It is not the first time Canada has become a haven for US war resisters.

During the Vietnam war, more than 50,000 American draft dodgers crossed into Canada between 1965 and 1973, refusing to participate in what they called “an immoral war”.

The then left-leaning Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had welcomed them, saying: “Those who make a conscientious judgement that they must not participate in this war … have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism”.

Most of them made their homes in the province of British Columbia, and are proud and successful Canadians today.

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