Note: After last night's meeting, I know a lot more about what we're doing next week, so here's an updated, revised calendar of events.
This is a partial calendar, because how much much happens is up to you: people of peace all over Canada will make this week a success by becoming involved.
Please pledge to do one thing, every day, to support war resisters in Canada. A phone call to your MP. A letter to a local newspaper. An hour of leafletting outside a local event (Obama's inauguration might provide you with one). An email to all your contacts. One action, every day.
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As I mentioned last week, January is a critical time in our fight to secure sanctuary in Canada for people of conscience who have refused to participate in the US occupation of Iraq.
Key upcoming dates include:
Jan 20: Removal date for Chris Teske
Jan 22: Removal date for Cliff Cornell
[Jan. 26: Parliament resumes]
Jan. 27: Removal date for the Rivera family (with 3 children, including an infant)
Jan 29: Removal date for the Hart family (with a child)
Jan. 30: Removal date for Dean Walcott
Feb. 10: Judicial review in Jeremy Hinzman's case
March 13: new IRB hearing for Joshua Key
March 18: Judicial review in Matt Lowell's case
The court dates in February and March may bring good news for our cause, so it's no coincidence that the Harper Government is trying to rush war resisters out of the country before then. If deported to the US, the war resisters face court martial, prison time and dishonourable discharges, the equivalent of a felony offence.
On June 3, 2008, Parliament passed a motion calling on the Government to cease all deportation proceedings against war resisters and allow them to stay in Canada. The Harper Government continues to flout democracy by ignoring the motion.
In response to this crisis, we are launching "Let Them Stay Week", January 19-26, a national week of actions to show the broad Canadian support to let war resisters stay.
As we mobilize support across Canada, I hope you will consider what you can do to help.
1. Monday, January 19: Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper of choice. When papers get enough letters on one topic, they're likely - even obligated - to print one or more.
2. Tuesday, January 20: Leaflet a local event. See the War Resisters Support Campaign site for a leaflet, make your own, or email me. The Obama Inauguration may provide you with a local event. If not, stand in front of a subway or commuter rail stop at rush hour.
3. Wednesday, January 21: In Toronto, we'll hold a press conference featuring war resister families and many prominent Canadians, including supportive MPs.
That evening, there'll be an event in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood, home to the Rivera family, Dean Walcott, Dale Landry, Ryan Johnson and other resisters live. This is a neighbourhood event organized by the community itself - mothers from Kim's day-care, people she knows through the local health centre, her son's school - working Canadians, many of whom are also immigrants. I'll post details as I have them.
If you want to plan a small solidarity event in your community, this might be the night to do it.
4. Thursday, January 22, will be a national call-in day focusing on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney & Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
5. Friday, January 23 will be a day to call or drop by your local MP's office to ask what they are doing to support resisters.
The War Resisters Support Campaign encourages people of peace throughout Canada to use the framework of "Let them Stay Week" to be creative and organize local events in support of war resisters.
Any group you belong to - faith, peace, labour, LGBT, environment - can get involved. Please send this information to your membership and invite them to act.
Supporting resistance to war is a concrete way of supporting peace. And giving refuge to military resisters speaks to the kind of society we want Canada to be.
We are also collecting signatures of prominent Canadians for an open letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. If you have any leads in this regard, please get in touch with me.