On the day that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is turning the sod at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, his government is forcibly deporting American war resister Clifford Cornell.
Despite Mr. Harper’s pretensions as a patron of human rights, his government has completely ignored a motion, passed by Parliament June 3, 2008, that called on the Canadian government to allow US war resisters to apply for permanent resident status in Canada and to cease all deportation and removal proceedings against US war resisters.
His refusal to allow war resisters a safe haven in Canada reverses a proud Canadian tradition of providing conscientious objectors a refuge from militarism, one recently reaffirmed in a June 2008 Angus Reid poll which showed that 64% of Canadians support allowing war resisters to stay in Canada.
Prime Minister Harper admitted during the last election that the Iraq war, one he had earlier championed, was “absolutely an error.” Yet his refusal to grant safe haven to that war shows that Mr. Harper supports what most international legal experts regard to be an illegal invasion and occupation that has led to the death of perhaps 1.2 million Iraqis and the displacement of another four million. His determination to punish U.S. War resisters by deporting them to the U.S. where they face imprisonment is hypocritical, to say the least.
Since Parliament passed its motion to allow war resisters to remain in Canada, the Federal Court has issued stays of removal to war resisters Jeremy Hintzman, Patrick Hart, Corey Glass and Matt Lowell. This will allow them additional time to make their cases to remain in Canada.
However, Robin Long, deported earlier this year, was sentenced on August 22, to 15 months in prison at a military penitentiary. War resister Dean Walcott was told on December 3rd that he must leave Canada by January 6th or face deportation to the United States. Another war resister, Kimberly Rivera, will receive a decision on her request to remain in Canada on Jan. 7. As noted earlier, Clifford Cornell is scheduled for deportation today. (Earlier reports said he would be deported on Christmas Eve.)
Peace Alliance Winnipeg (PAW) calls upon all who believe that conscientious objection to an illegal, immoral war is a human right to voice their opinions to the federal government.
Please cc the opposition party critics if you email Jason Kenney:
* Liberal party immigration critic Borys Wrzesnewskyj: firstname.lastname@example.org
* NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow: email@example.com
* Bloc Québécois immigration critic Thierry St-Cyr: firstname.lastname@example.org