She has always been our most vocal and visible supporter in the House of Commons, sometimes while allowing other (less committed) people to take the credit for her work. She has guided us with advice about dealing with Parliament, helped us craft strategy, spoken at every event we've asked her to.
As incredibly important and essential as her legislative work has been, Olivia's personal commitment to Iraq War resisters in Canada goes beyond the political to the personal. She has opened her home for resisters and campaigners, arranged celebrations, stopped by our meetings to cheer us on. She has lifted our spirits.
This week many of us are receiving replies to our emails from Let Them Stay Week. Olivia's response was beautiful, and in case you didn't cc her on your email, I want to share it with you.
Dear friends of Iraq War resisters,
We have been campaigning to let Iraq war resisters stay in Canada for five years now. Many war resisters have established roots in Canada. They have children and families, and have built close relationships with friends in their neighbourhoods and communities.
For several weeks, I hoped that the Harper government would be defeated by the coalition government which promised to establish a program that would allow the war resisters stay in Canada as permanent residents. However, last week the Liberals once again refused change and derailed the possibility of creating a Canada that is fair, just and humane.
So where do we go from here? I have been talking to Dale, Joshua, Phil, Kim, Patrick, Jeremy and many other war resister campaigners and we are not about to give up. I will persist in doing my part and introduce Motions and Private Members Bills into the House of Commons. The various court actions will continue and I am confident that some of the decisions will be positive.
I have moved the same Motion* that passed last Parliament. It will be debated again next Tuesday, February 10, at 9 am at the Parliament's Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
So take heart, let's journey on and continue to say to war resisters - we will fight hard to make sure that Canada is your permanent home.
Olivia Chow, MP
Immigration Critic for the New Democratic Party of Canada
* The Committee recommends that the government immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members (partners and dependents), who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and that the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may have already commenced against such individuals.
More soon about Tuesday.