Canadian Government No Longer Sympathetic to U.S. War Resisters

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
(photo illustration: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

American soldiers who don’t want to fight anymore should avoid what historically was a safe haven: Canada.


The northern neighbor that welcomed 50,000 draft dodgers during the Vietnam War has not approved a single Iraq war resister to stay in Canada over the past 10 years, according to the Christian Science Monitor.


Many have fled to Canada requesting permanent residence, but often they have been rejected and forced to return to the U.S. Once back on American soil, deserters have been prosecuted by the military, with several sentenced to prison terms of about a year.


Canada’s policy on U.S. deserters is markedly different than it was 50 years ago. Part of the change is a result of the U.S. military being an all-volunteer force, while the Vietnam-era resisters were trying to avoid being drafted.


“But politics may also play a role,” Gretel Kauffman wrote at the Christian Science Monitor. “Some Iraq war resisters and their supporters attribute their struggles to the politics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, which has led Canada since 2006.” The Harper administration issued a policy five years ago that labeled war resisters as potential criminals, Kauffman found, “which has led critics to challenge the government’s claim that applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.”


About a dozen war resisters remain in Canada, still trying for asylum. Some are hoping the Liberal Party prevails in that country’s coming election and takes a different attitude toward those who escaped north.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Canada Cools To Resisters Of U.S.’s Iraq War. What’s Changed Since Vietnam? (by Gretel Kauffman, Christian Science Monitor)

Unlike In Sixties, Canada Provides No Sanctuary For Soldiers Avoiding War (by Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press)

Joint Statement By Former U.S. Military Personnel Who Came To Canada Because Of Their Conscientious Objection To The 2003 Iraq War. (War Resisters Support Campaign)

Canada and Iraq War Resisters (Wikipedia)

Canadian Government Orders Deportation of U.S. Soldier who Refused to Return to Iraq (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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