by Gerry Condon
Today the Canadian Parliament made a historic vote in favor of U.S. war resisters who are seeking a safe haven in Canada rather than fight in the illegal occupation of Iraq. The vote in the House of Commons was 137-110, with all the opposition parties – the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party – voting for the motion, and the ruling Conservative Party voting against.
The Parliament calls on the minority Conservative government to create a program that will allow war resisters to immigrate to Canada, and it also calls for a halt to all deportation proceedings.
This is a VERY BIG victory for war resisters in Canada and everywhere. It will strengthen our hand considerably.
But the struggle for sanctuary in Canada is far from over. The Conservative government, a staunch ally of the Bush administration, may choose to defy the will of the Canadian people by ignoring this advisory motion.
Corey Glass, an Iraq veteran and war resister, was recently ordered to leave Canada by June 12 or face deportation.
So even as we celebrate this victory, we must step up the pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley. [See action alert from War Resisters Support Campaign, below, along with their press release and a news article.]
Yes, it does help for the Canadian government to hear from many people in the U.S. who want them to provide sanctuary for our war resisters. Courage To Resist (www.couragetoresist.org) has generated thousands of letters from people in the U.S. to Canadian government and political leaders and these have clearly helped, as have the vigils and delegations to the Canadian Embassy in Washington and Canadian Consulates around the U.S.
Project Safe Haven, a network of Vietnam War resisters who are supporting war resisters today, is calling for people to contact Canadian representatives in the U.S. this week.
* THANK the Canadian people and their Parliament for supporting our war resisters.
* CALL on the Conservative government to follow the will of the Canadian people and implement this motion.
* DEMAND an end to deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and other war resisters
You can visit the Canadian Consulate in person. In Seattle, we will have a Celebration outside of the Canadian Consulate, 1501 4th Ave. at Pike St., on Thursday, June 5, at noon. There will also be vigils and delegations in several other cities.
And you can call them, fax them, or email them.
Canadian Consular offices are in over 20 U.S. cities. Here are their addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
If you want to participate in visits to the Canadian Embassy or Consulates, please send an email to email@example.com or call Gerry Condon at 206-499-1220.
If you are a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War or Veterans For Peace, you may want to get in touch with your local chapter or national office to let them know you want to participate, and to help organize these events.
U.S. war resisters and their wonderful Canadian supporters have won a historic victory. By acting decisively at this time, we in the U.S. can participate in this victory and help to make it an even bigger one.
Soldier Say No / Project Safe Haven