1.08.2009

january 19 - 24: let them stay week

If we don't raise our voices loudly and clearly, January will be Deportation Month for Iraq War resisters in Canada. Take a look at this:

Chris Teske - deportation date January 20

Cliff Cornell - deportation date January 22

Kim Rivera (along with spouse Mario, and children Christian, Rebecca and Katie) - deportation date January 27

Patrick Hart (along with spouse Jill and son Rian) - deportation deferred from January 15 to January 29

Dean Walcott - deportation deferred from January 6 to January 30

It's no coincidence that these are all stacked up before Parliament returns. And with the throne speech on January 26 and the budget on January 27, we can be sure any late-January deportations will slip under the media radar.

In addition, there are three important court dates in February and March, for Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key and Matt Lowell. Decisions in these cases could well affect all the resisters. It would be tragic to send people to military prisons in the US, only to learn a few weeks later that the court is deciding in their favour.

With this in mind, the War Resisters Support Campaign is asking you to join us for Let Them Stay Week.

Beginning January 19, people all over Canada will call Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, call their MPs, write letters to local newspapers, email their friends, hand out leaflets, blog, Facebook and whatever else we can think of.

We must keep this issue visible, and make our demands clear: we want the Government of Canada to follow the will of the people. The majority of Canadians - almost two-thirds in the most recent poll - want Canada to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. That was clearly expressed in Parliament on June 3, when all three opposition parties passed a motion calling on the Government to Let Them Stay.

Harper ignored the motion, then, after shutting down Parliament, is rapidly deporting war resisters.

This is not only about the 50-odd US war resisters who have applied for refugee status in Canada. It's about democracy. It's about what kind of Canada we want to live in.

Please join us for Let Them Stay week. More details here and on Resisters.ca as they happen.

10 comments:

ml johnstone said...

In the 60's in Montreal I was in a shared flat where we offered temporary lodging, food and info for resistors.

L-girl said...

That's cool. Are you involved in the current fight? I see you're in the west - there are plenty of resisters and campaigners out there.

Soldier Say No! said...

We must fight these deportations by any (nonviolent) means necessary, both in Canada and the U.S. We need to start thinking outside the box. Letters to the Conservative government are appropriate, but we know they will not listen. Who else should we be looking to for support and sanctuary?

L-girl said...

Well, writing to Conservative MPs is one part of an overall strategy. We know they're not going to change their mind, but they are listening. That's why they're trying to rush the resisters out of the country before Parliament returns, that's why Jason Kenney is sputtering and turning red on national TV, that's why neo-cons are flooding articles about resisters with anti-resister comments. Because we are having an effect.

Our letters to Conservative MPs let them know we haven't gone away, and it shows them how many people are on our side.

Alone, it would certainly not be enough. But combined with getting our motion back on the agenda for the new Parliament, huge media focus, and all kinds of other actions, it's one important step.

We are all thinking outside the box, inside the box, every which way possible. Sanctuary is an important question but not something we can discuss online.

L-girl said...

There's a quote that's attributed to Gandhi, although I can't find anything that actually says he said it. But no matter who said it, it applies here.

"First they ignore you. Then they mock you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

Soldier Say No! said...

Good answers, Laura. I know that people are working on many fronts; I am not criticizing the Campaign. I'm only expressing the obvious: this is a an extraordinary moment that calls for extraordinary resistance.

L-girl said...

this is a an extraordinary moment that calls for extraordinary resistance

I totally agree.

JakeNCC said...

Are you guys trying other ways to get them PR status instead of just going through the front door. Another words are they trying for PR status through normal channels without telling the gov't they are resisters? Like marriage, work visas, regular request to immigrate. It would be great to get a blanket approval for all war resisters but in the meantime this people need a way to stay. Of course going underground is always an option.

L-girl said...

Jake, it's a good question, one a lot of people ask. There are a lot of issues involved.

First, any application to live in Canada has to made from outside the country, and it takes time. But these folks don't have time. They're AWOL, and in the US they can be picked up and arrested.

That's one of the big differences between now and the Vietnam era resisters. You used to be able to apply from within Canada, but not anymore.

Two, most of the resisters would not be eligible for any status in Canada without some special provision. There's no regular request to immigrate that would apply to them. You need money, job experience, education (or a partner with those), and it takes a long time.

These guys don't have any of that.

A refugee claim is the only way for them to stay here legally. And once you're a refugee claimant, you can't apply for any other status.

There are some resisters who will probably get spousal PR. Corey Glass looks good for that, and a few others. But they even have to approved for that. They can't just marry a Canadian and automatically get it. If it looks like they're getting married just for status, they can be rejected.

And he couldn't have just come to Canada and gotten married, and been safe. It only happened after he had been in the system for a while.

It would be great to get a blanket approval for all war resisters but in the meantime this people need a way to stay.

Which is exactly why they're applying for refugee status - because once they are refugee claimants, they can get a work permit, and health care, and live here while their case makes its way through the channels. While meanwhile, we work for a political solution.

Of course going underground is always an option.

There are at least 200 Iraq War resisters living underground in Canada now. It's not so easy, as Canada (from what I hear) does not have the huge underground economy that the US does. But people are managing.

Going underground after you've applied for status is much trickier. They have to check in frequently and any slip up, and they'll be deported. Robin Long was set up that way and any of them could be.

I hope that answers your question. Let me know if any of it doesn't make sense or you want more information.

Cornelia said...

Thanks so much for the info on refugee law and options and problems and stuff, Laura!

It's no coincidence that these are all stacked up before Parliament returns. And with the throne speech on January 26 and the budget on January 27, we can be sure any late-January deportations will slip under the media radar.

Yep, they hope to get away with it that way. Hope we can prevent that...