Canada readies to give U.S. deserters refuge
By Arthur Weinreb
Canada Free Press
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, U.S. military deserters have been trickling into Canada and seeking refugee status, arguing that they face persecution if returned to the United States.
The numbers of deserters entering the country is small; estimates put them at about 50. The most high profile deserters are Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, who received their 15 minutes of fame because they were the first to base refugee claims on the Iraq war.
Both Hinzman and Hughey signed up for four year terms in the U.S. military (they could have signed up for two years). Both claimed that they did it to serve their country, although part of the reasons for their enlistment was to obtain free benefits including education that the military offered. Both made claims to be conscientious objectors but were not found to fall within that category. During their refugee hearings they freely admitted that they had no objection to bearing arms or serving in a war. Hinzman had even been successfully deployed to Afghanistan.
Their objections to military service were based solely on their belief that the war in Iraq was illegal. The Immigration and Refugee Board refused to admit evidence that pertained to the illegality of the war, holding that if military personnel refused to carry out illegal acts, they could raise the subject of that illegality at a U.S. court martial. The Board further found that although the maximum penalty for desertion was death, most deserters were simply given dishonourable discharges. In some cases, short prison terms were handed out. The consequences for desertion were found to be prosecution and not persecution.
Both men brought applications for judicial review to Federal Court and both applications were dismissed. Further appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal were likewise unsuccessful and on November 15, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear their appeals. Their judicial proceedings having come to an end, both Hinzman and Hughey were subject to deportation to the United States.
But not to worry, NDP MP Olivia Chow (a.k.a. Mrs. Jack Layton) introduced a motion before Parliament Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that would allow deserters (or war resisters as the left call them) to remain in Canada. Last month the motion passed the Committee by a 7 to 4 vote with members of all opposition parties voting to allow the deserters to remain in Canada. The matter comes before Parliament next month.
If the House votes the way the Committee voted, the motion will pass. The governing Conservatives will vote against it while the pacifist NDP and Bloc parties will certainly vote against it. As for the Liberals, if they are forced to be the trained seals that they are, they will follow leader Sthane Dion and vote for it. The result will no doubt be that a designated class will be set up for deserters war resisters allowing them to obtain permanent residency status as long as they have no serious criminal record and they can show that they can support themselves without resorting to social services.
Olivia Chow pulled no punches as to why she introduced the motion. She is quoted as saying, anadians said no to George Bush illegal invasion of Iraq. Now Canadians want Parliament to let the war resisters stay in Canada. It always humourous how the NDP that can get 20 per cent of the vote always knows exactly what Canadians want. This motion is nothing more than an excuse to play the anti-American card that all parties with the exception of the governing Conservatives love to pay. It our national pastime.
The real downside will come after the U.S. presidential elections later this year. If the Democrats win and don immediately withdraw the troops from Iraq, we can expect large increases of deserters to enter Canada. Theyl be allowed to stay here without facing consequences for their desertion, no questions asked. And with a Democrat in the White House, it will only be a matter of time before deserters are all pardoned in a gesture to please the far left wing of the Democratic Party. If the pardons come quickly, the deserters will undoubtedly return to the U.S. If this happens, the costs to Canada will outweigh any benefit that these people will provide.
In the meantime, this motion gives the opposition parties a chance to thrill their supporters with their anti-Americanism that hasn been seen in Canada since Stephen Harper came to power two years ago.