I'd like to comment on Monday's PointCounterPoint debate about allowing American Iraq war resisters refuge in Canada.
Among the 50,000 plus Americans who came to Canada during the lengthy Vietnam War were several distinct groups. There were draft dodgers who left prior to breaking any Selective Service laws; there were draft resisters who were in violation of one or more Selective Serve laws (the federal judge in my district, Judge Wise, sentenced all Selection Service violations the same: five years in the Kentucky federal penitentiary); there were conscientious objectors who had been denied conscientious objector status, and there were those with conscientious objector status who refused to do the required alternate service. But, most importantly for this debate, there were a sizable number of military deserters, some draftees and some volunteers who after serving part of or an entire tour of duty in Vietnam found their way to Canada rather than return to a war they could no longer support.
The Canadian government of the day did not distinguish between any of those groups; all were welcomed.
For me the central questions today are: Why is there not more support among Canadians for the Iraq war resisters and why is the current Canadian government breaking with the longstanding Canadian tradition, that long predates the Vietnam War, of accepting U.S. war resisters whether they be draftees or volunteers?
Thank you, Mr. Eberhardt!