Media Release from the War Resisters Support Campaign:
CIC Website Tries to Erase Canada's History of War Resisters
Both Draft Resisters and Deserters Welcomed During Vietnam War
OTTAWA — Until very recently, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website included a page that accurately presented Canada's history of accepting Vietnam War resisters during the 1960s and 70s, some of whom were draft resisters and many others who had signed up voluntarily and later deserted as conscientious objectors.
Within the last two weeks, this history has been removed from the ministry's website, but evidence of its existence still appears on popular Internet search engines such as Google.
"Just because this part of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website has been removed does not mean that the history of Vietnam War deserters coming to Canada can be dismissed," says Dick Cotterill, a former U.S. Marine and a successful businessman in Truro, Nova Scotia. "I am evidence that it did indeed happen. I enlisted voluntarily and served three years before I came to the moral decision that the Vietnam War was unjust and I could no longer participate. Many of the Iraq War resisters enlisted in good faith, have served in combat, and have chosen to oppose this war by coming to Canada. They, too, should be allowed to stay."
In January, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney revealed the federal government's blanket opposition to U.S. Iraq War resisters by labelling them "bogus refugee claimants." The Minister's blatantly prejudicial comment was promptly denounced by Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Council for Refugees.
The government webpage about Vietnam War resisters (a cached copy of which is available as a PDF file) was part of a section of the CIC website called "Forging Our Legacy". It was based on a book of the same title (ISBN 0-662-28983-8) that was published in 2000 by Public Works and Government Services Canada, in conjunction with private-sector partners, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Citizenship Act (1947). The book and section of the CIC website traced the evolution of Canadian citizenship and the role played by immigration in the development of Canada from the end of the nineteenth century until 1977. The information about war resisters was still available on the CIC website as of February 4, 2009.
Last June a motion was adopted by Parliament directing the Government of Canada to establish a program to facilitate permanent resident status for American Iraq War resisters and immediately stop removal proceedings against them. Since then, three resisters have been forced back to the U.S. by the Harper government to be punished for their conscientious objection to the illegal war. The resisters' objections are notably similar to Canada's refusal to participate in the war, and polls that show a large majority of Canadians oppose the Iraq War and support Iraq War resisters. On Thursday, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration passed a motion reaffirming Parliament's June 2008 vote in support of letting Iraq War resisters stay in Canada.
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PDF copy of CIC page two weeks ago. Scroll down for section on "Draft-age Americans in Canada".
Same page today.