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Tell Liberals: support US Iraq War resisters

By: 
Brian Champ

March 13, 2016

When mass demonstrations across Canada against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 kept Canada from participating in the illegal conflict, space was opened up for US soldiers who also refused to fight in Iraq to seek refuge in the tradition of Vietnam era war resisters.  

US soldiers did refuse to fight and they came to Canada in their hundreds, and were supported by the masses of people who had opposed the invasion. For a while it seemed as if a provision could be made to let them stay.

Then Stephen Harper and his cronies were elected, and the Canadian government waged a concerted campaign to have their refugee claims denied and have them deported. They interfered in the refugee hearing process, appealed court decisions that were favourable to war resisters and deported a number of them back to the US, where they faced jail time and subsequent employment discrimination. 

Then the government of Justin Trudeau was elected. Although the Liberals had not promised anything in the election campaign directly on this issue, when he was questioned at a town hall, Trudeau promised to review war resisters cases with compassion. The war resisters still in Canada, and their supporters, felt that there was hope for a positive outcome in these cases.

It has now been four months since the election and the Liberals have still not done anything on this issue. They continue to pursue litigation against war resisters that was launched by the Conservative government. We have to keep the pressure up to make sure that they are not allowed to backslide and that war resisters are finally welcomed as people of conscience who refused to participate in an illegal and immoral war. 

Supporters of the campaign can find out how they can get involved by visiting the War Resisters Support Campaign website at www.resisters.ca

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