stop quibbling and let them stay

Here's a letter exchange from the Toronto Star, in response to Mary Jo Leddy's excellent op-ed, which you can read here.

First this:
The recently blocked torture photos from Iraq provide a grim vindication of U.S. war resisters. By deporting them to jail, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is making Canada complicit in these crimes. Canada has a tradition of welcoming war resisters – volunteers and conscripts alike – and Parliament has twice voted to renew that proud legacy. When will Kenney stop punishing soldiers for resisting a war based on torture, and start respecting our tradition and democracy?

Jesse McLaren, Toronto

It is with disappointment that I read yet another article in support of those who flee to Canada to avoid service in the U.S. military. Mary Jo Leddy refers to the men applying for refugee status in Canada as "resisters" and "conscientious objectors." It needs to be made clear that, first, a true conscientious objector would never enlist in the military, and second, that enlistment in the U.S. military is one of a voluntary nature as there has been no draft since the end of the Vietnam War.

By enlisting in the U.S. military service, a person signs a contract and is given a short period of grace to withdraw from it. Once that window has passed, the enlistee is obligated to fulfill the contract. So what are they resisting? It appears that they are trying to avoid the obligations of their contractual duties.

I have no problem with these men applying after their contract has expired, or if they are trying to avoid the odious aspect of their contract wherein the U.S. military can and has forced service personnel back to active duty after their period of duty has expired.

Michael Cook, Scarborough

Then this:
Michael Cook objects to Americans who had a contract to serve in the U.S. armed forces claiming refugee status here in Canada. But this argument ignores the fact that the invasion of Iraq was illegal according to the Charter of the United Nations, the conclusions of the Nuremburg trials, etc.

The position of those who seek to remain here is that the U.S. government dishonoured their contracts. Many of those who have fled to Canada already served one term in Iraq and were required to perform acts that were illegal under international law.

We ignore Canadian history and tradition if we do not let them stay. Canada has been always been a haven for Americans: the United Empire Loyalists who founded English-speaking Canada, escaped slaves, and servicemen who had been drafted without their consent.

We should allow these people to stay regardless of legal quibbling over the terms of their contracts.

John Brinckman, Toronto

There's no need to get caught up in the "quibbling" (good word) over conscription versus voluntary enlistment. Soldiers volunteered to protect and defend their countries, not murder innocent civilians. A soldier has a responsibility and a duty to refuse illegal orders.

Canada's Parliament has already voted on this - twice! The majority of Canadians believe US war resisters should be allowed to stay. Canada's a democracy, right? Right?

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