Oh Canada, Why Can’t You Shelter War Resisters?

Deb Ellis’ and Dennis Mueller’s film Peace Has No Borders tells the story of U.S. war resisters in Canada in opposition to the 2003-present war on Iraq, and the efforts of the War Resisters Support Campaign to win them the right not to be deported.

Many members of the U.S. military in recent years have deserted and moved to Canada, where they have in some cases spoken out against the U.S. war on Iraq. This film shows us a bit of some of their stories.

Jeremy Hinzman was the first.

Kimberly Rivera was a U.S. Army truck driver in Iraq who lost her belief in the lies about the war.

Patrick Hart was also in the Army. He says another soldier told him he’d pulled the hair of many Iraqi children out of the grill of his vehicle, and that one needed to simply treat kids as speed bumps. Hart wasn’t down with that.

Chuck Wiley was in the U.S. Navy for 16 years and finally objected to bombing civilian buildings, which he says — wearing his Veterans For Peace shirt — left him the choice of going to prison or leaving the United States.

The War Resisters Support Committee was founded in 2004 and grew rapidly in 2005. Resisters sought refugee status on the grounds of refusing to participate in an “illegal war.” They were denied.

Polling found that two-thirds of Canadians wanted to allow resisters to stay. The Canadian government was much more reluctant, representing — as it does — the United States government, more so than Canadian people.

Olivia Chow, MP, said that she believed anyone resisting the war on Iraq was courageous, and that Canada needed more courageous people. Chow proposed a non-binding motion, which passed through Parliament. Every member of Parliament had to choose, said Chow, to say yes to the war or yes to the courageous war resisters.

Wiley spoke of his growing love for Canada based on his experiencing how a government can actually represent people. Sadly, however, non-binding resolutions had no impact on the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

So, a binding bill was introduced. Strategically, a member of the Liberal Party took the lead, to ensure Liberal votes. But when it came time to actually vote, that party’s war-author leader Michael Ignatieff led a dozen of his party members in going AWOL from Parliament to avoid voting and ensure defeat — a supreme act of cowardice in response to the demands of courage.

Rivera and Hart were deported. Rivera spent 10 months in prison. Hart received a record 25-month sentence. Wiley discovered that he had been discharged. All of them now live in the United States. Hinzman won, at least temporarily, the right to stay in Canada.

In 2015 the Conservative Party lost. But the new government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not acted on behalf of the remaining resisters, has not made the non-binding motions meaningful. And no new bills have been introduced.

This sets a bad precedent for all the current U.S. wars and all the U.S. wars yet to come. It seems critical that Canada, now, while it has a government that puts up some pretense of decency, act decisively to establish standards for sheltering conscientious objectors to wars — standards that will hold up during any hell yet to be brought forth from the bowels of Washington, D.C.

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  • Todd Millions

    Mr.Wiley is -naive or comes across as such.
    He doesn’t know at all the frosty banana republic that I’m bred born and live-no reside in.
    Its not that this inexcusable shite hole of a Dumbinion shouldn’t and couldn’t be much better.
    That would take less effort but much more discriminating taste and discernment. And maintaining that of course.
    Our dual citizen beholden(owned) politicians(All of them currently-almost all in short periods in the past)
    are the mere visible tip of this.
    We should have provided leadership by example.
    We haven’t.
    With the uranium we continue too supply to Tepco and the isreali security our goverments are thereby subcontracted too-
    I expect none of us will get another chance at Not stuffing it up by blinding persistent stupidity.
    Our schooling masquerading as education as much as our elites use PR for impressions they are capable of compassion or though(As well as Odin’s other raven-Memory.) will not do anywhere, for anyone.

  • Todd Millions

    An amplification neatly summed up:
    -” A Little Crooked House: Trudeau , Morneu,
    BMO & KPMG Inc ” by Paul Bentley

    posted June 6th 2017 -Counterpunch.

    Its particularly instructive when the Panama “leaks” are held up with and compared with
    the “don’t seize “accounts leaked via phone camera when the banks folded in Cyprus.
    Prestaging the isreali coup de bank.
    Now its to be a “hub” of undersea electrical cables in a parody of Buckminister Fullers
    world game continent grid interconnections(GENI) with Cyprus not actually in control of the
    Guess who will be.
    A hint-Its Not the Egyptians!

  • Canada has completely gone over to the dark side of being a supplicating vassal state of the American Empire. We have increasingly joined in on imperial wars of aggression. We have protected and expanded our military-industrial-complex. We have rid ourselves of our gold reserves and follow the same insane economic policies. Some have even taken it upon themselves to drone endlessly about the Trump administration and his election as if anyone in the US actually cares what Canadians think of their political system (while ignoring the chaos and criminality of our own political system and class–it drives me crazy when people spend so much energy on the mess in somebody else’s backyard while ignoring the absolute madness in their own). And the list goes on…Don’t expect Canadian politicians to stand up to the US and its imperial ambitions and consequences as it did in the past. Those days are far behind us.

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  • ICFubar

    Sad to say but Canada has been made a cheap imitation of her southern neighbour at the hands of venal politicians no matter their political stripe. So there’ll be no more haven for conscientious objectors as there was during the Vietnam genocide.

    Fact for CDNs reading here: From 1974 when CDN govts at all levels could borrow practically interest free/debt free money from the Bank of Canada the Federal debt stood at roughly 40 billion from the time of Confederation to then. From 1974 (fiscal year) to 2013-14 end of fiscal year Canadian taxpayers have paid 1.17 TRILLION just in interest payments (not principal) to the commercial bankers they are required to borrow from and the Federal debt stands at roughly 700 + billion….their numbers if they are to be trusted to give out the truth. From this we can deduce who is in charge and running Canada as a milk cow.