Almost 40 years ago, being young and idealistic, we came to this beautiful country to escape the demands that the U.S. military and government were placing on its citizens and society.
We knew little of the country we came to but soon learned how important it was that people in Canada cared to help U.S. conscientious objectors.
In 1968, with the help of the Mennonite, Quaker and United Church communities, the Canadian government agreed to allow U. S. deserters and draft evaders to stay in Canada and not be forced to return. This is not true for the current illegal Iraq war, where the Americans continue to send troops.
There are hundreds of American Iraq war resisters in Canada. In spite of the fact that a majority of Parliament voted to allow the resisters to stay, the Conservative Harper government has stated that resisters will be deported and returned to the United States to face prosecution. Only Harper's Conservatives are supporting this deportation, but they get to decide.
While this small deportation may look unimportant to most Canadians, Vietnam era immigrants remember the feeling of arriving in a country that cared about its citizens; a country that believed in aspiring to fairness and justice.
We know that most Canadians do not agree with Prime Minister Harper's order for deportation -- recent national polls indicate that 64 per cent of Canadians support granting permanent residency to U. S. war resisters -- and we also know that Harper is not about to change without significant pressure.
We ask that you remember and recognize the value that Vietnam war resisters brought to this country over the last 40 years and that you recognize the same potential in these new young U. S. resisters asking for the same opportunity.
If we help them stay, they will contribute their efforts to Canada as we did then and they will remember your kindness as we do now.
Please contact your local MP, Prime Minister Harper, Immigration Minister Diane Finley and Public Security Minister Stockwell Day to add your voices to the many other Canadians who are saying "let war resisters stay."
Andrew Armitage, Leigh
Donald Holman, Traverston
Robert Hope, Owen Sound
Terri Hope, Owen Sound
Tony McQuail, Lucknow
Elizabeth Zetlin, Traverston
Thank you, all!!