Ottawa Orders U.S. War Dodger To Leave Canada

Ottawa orders U.S. war dodger to leave Canada

Dec 03, 2008 05:16 PM

Another American war dodger was told today to leave Canada by early next month or face deportation, but supporters are optimistic that either the courts or a possible change of government in Ottawa will allow him to stay.

Dean Walcott said Immigration officials turned down his request to remain in the country on humanitarian and compassionate grounds after deciding he would not face any undue risk by going back to the United States.

Walcott expressed disappointment but not surprise at the decision, given the view of the Conservative government.

“The Conservative party is not what I would call steadfast supporters of our cause; they don't think we should be here at all because they think we have adequate protection in the States,” he said shortly after learning he had to leave.

“They're horribly, horribly wrong.”

The former marine corporal, who deployed twice to Iraq, was ordered to leave Canada by Jan. 6 or be forcibly removed. He arrived in the country two years ago and applied unsuccessfully for refugee status.

Although he would not have had to return to Iraq, Walcott, 27, said a posting at a U.S. hospital in Germany, where he saw the casualties of the war, prompted his decision to come to Canada.

“I came up here because I was getting tired of seeing little kids blown up,” he said.

Walcott is the sixth American deserter Ottawa has decided would face prosecution, not persecution, if returned to the United States.

“We think they're mistaken,” said Walcott, who is originally from Connecticut. “We're going to be fighting it tooth and nail all the way.”

In July, Robin Long, who had also fled the U.S. to avoid fighting in Iraq, was kicked out of Canada and is now serving a 15-month prison term in California.

Lee Zaslofsky, of the War Resisters Support Campaign, expressed optimism that both the judicial and political winds may be shifting in their favour.

“We've won everything in court since July except the Robin Long case,” Zaslofsky said.

“All the dates that have been given to people, none of them have had to depart on those days yet.”

The Federal Court of Canada has previously decided the refugee process for three deserters Joshua Key, Corey Glass and Jeremy Hinzman was flawed.

In Hinzman's case, the court took note of new evidence that war dodgers who speak publicly about their experiences in Iraq face harsher punishment in the U.S. His case is due in the Federal Court of Appeal in February.

Glass, who has married a Canadian and is expecting a baby, has been given time to make another request of Ottawa to be allowed to remain on humanitarian grounds.

Key is slated to have a new refugee hearing late next month.

Zaslofsky said the opposition parties, who are now threatening to topple the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have urged the Tories to allow the American deserters to stay in Canada.

“Should the government change, we would have better chance of getting a political solution to this,” Zaslofsky said.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.