Military Deserter Ordered Deported From B.C.

Military deserter ordered deported from B.C.

By Tiffany Crawford
Canwest News Service
January 20, 2009

An American army deserter who has been living in B.C. in an attempt to avoid serving in the U.S.-led war in Iraq has joined a growing list of refugee applicants to be refused asylum in Canada.

Chris Teske, 27, who joined the army after the 9/11 attacks in New York, asked the Federal Court for a stay of removal but was denied late Monday night and told to leave Canada by Tuesday or be removed by force.

However, Michelle Robidoux, a spokeswoman with the War Resisters' Support Campaign said Teske won a three-day reprieve from the Canada Border Services Agency to allow him more time to get to a border crossing closer to his B.C. home in Castlegar.

Supporters used the delay to make a last-ditch effort to appeal to the Conservative government to allow him to stay.

B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to take immediate action to stop the deportation and others.

Given a lack of confidence in the House of Commons by the Opposition and U.S. President Barack Obama's stance against the Iraq war, Atamanenko said the Canadian government should reconsider its position and intervene.

“Should there ever be a coalition government then it's my assumption and hope that we can review this and then put a stop to all of this,” he said.

Teske served two tours in Afghanistan and says he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder before being called to train gunners in Iraq in 2006. He refused to go to Iraq on moral and conscientious grounds because he believed the war immoral.

He and his wife then fled to British Columbia where they have lived for the past two years in the West Kootenays in the Interior of the province. Teske has been working at a truss construction company.

Earlier this month, Kimberly Rivera, who served in Iraq in 2006 but deserted after being informed of her redeployment the following year, went before the Immigration and Refugee Board in Toronto with her husband and two young children to ask to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Instead, she was given until Jan. 27 to voluntarily leave or face deportation.

At the time, Kenney accused the deserters of filing “bogus” refugee claims.

There are at least four other American army deserters and their families facing deportation in January.