From the War Resisters Support Campaign:
Celebrated filmmaker Ken Loach supports U.S. Iraq War resisters in Canada
Loach joins screenwriter of Route Irish to endorse Bill C-440 before Canadian Parliament
Award-winning filmmaker Ken Loach has joined a growing number of high-profile Canadian and international filmmakers in support of American soldiers who have come to Canada in opposition to the Iraq War. Ken Loach endorsed Bill C-440 that will debated in the Canadian Parliament later this month and would, if passed, enable U.S. Iraq War resisters to apply for permanent residence within Canada.
Loach joins his long-time collaborator and screenwriter Paul Laverty to enthusiastically support the War Resisters Support Campaign and Bill C-440. The endorsement comes as their new film "Route Irish" is set to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Wednesday. Route Irish is the story of a private security contractor in Iraq who rejects the official explanation of his friend’s death and sets out to discover the truth.
“I am very pleased to support the War Resisters Support Campaign and endorse Bill C-440,” said Ken Loach. “Canadians are absolutely right to show solidarity with these brave and principled people. The illegal war in Iraq has been a tragedy for its victims and has shamed the governments of Britain and the United States. Those who resist it are heroes.”
Loach and Laverty join actress Shirley Douglas, film director David Cronenberg, and Academy Award-winner Ron Kovic in calling on the Government of Canada to let U.S. Iraq War resisters stay.
Two motions, brought forward by NDP Immigration Critic Olivia Chow and adopted by the House of Commons on June 3, 2008 and March 30, 2009 have directed the Conservative minority government to cease deportation proceedings against U.S. Iraq War resisters and to create a program to facilitate the resisters’ requests for permanent resident status. Since the first motion was passed, resisters Robin Long and Cliff Cornell were deported, targeted for prosecution by the American military and jailed for speaking out against the war.
The Conservative government’s refusal to respect the will of Parliament led Gerard Kennedy, MP (Parkdale—High Park, ON) to introduce Bill C-440 last September, to give those motions legal weight. The bill was seconded by Bill Siksay, MP (Burnaby—Douglas, BC). The second hour of Second Reading debate of Bill C-440 is scheduled for Monday, September 27 with a vote expected to take place on Wednesday, September 29.
On September 18, the Saturday before the House of Commons fall session begins, Iraq War veteran and resister Rodney Watson will mark his first anniversary in sanctuary at the First United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
On July 6, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the request of Jeremy Hinzman — the first U.S. Iraq War resister to come to Canada — to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds must be reconsidered. The Court found that the first decision was “significantly flawed” and “unreasonable” because the H&C officer had the duty to look at all of the appellants’ personal circumstances, including moral, political and religious beliefs and motivations, but failed to do so.
On July 22, Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued Operational Bulletin 202. Reversing 40 years of Canadian policy, the directive targets war resisters from the U.S. and instructs immigration officers to treat them as criminals. It has been criticized as the latest in a string of attempts by the Conservative minority government to interfere in the supposedly independent immigration process.
A public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in June 2008 found that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of Canadians support granting permanent resident status to U.S. Iraq War resisters.