support bill c-440: first steps

We have a bill!

Bill C-440, a bill in support of US Iraq War resisters, was introduced in the House of Commons today. MP Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale-High Park) introduced the bill, seconded by Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas).

This is a private member's bill, and for those of you who, like me, are new to the Canadian political system, private member's bills don't often become law. But some do, and this one might. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, Bill C-440 is a critical tool to help us advocate for basic Canadian values: welcoming good people of conscience who have refused to participate in an unjust war, and seek haven in this country.

Bill C-440 gives legal weight to the motion already passed twice in Parliament. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has refused to implement the will of Parliament and has continued to deport, and threaten to deport, war resisters, saying the motions are "non-binding". Passing C-440 will force the minority Conservative government to respect the majority view - to respect democracy - and let war resisters stay.

Now we face yet another enormous task. We need to ensure that Bill C-440 moves along, in order to prevent any more deportations. I can tell you this in all sincerity: every action in support will make a difference.

In the coming days and weeks, I'll have more information about how you can support C-440. There'll be a website, a petition, and more. But now, today, there is something you can do.

Please take a moment to send an email of thanks and support. Here's why:
- to thank MPs Kennedy and Siksay for introducing this important bill
- to thank the Opposition Members for their efforts in passing two motions in the House of Commons in support of U.S. Iraq War resisters,
- to remind them that several Iraq war resisters are under imminent threat of deportation to the United States, where they face court-martial and jail time, and
- to call on all Members of the Opposition to help move the bill forward as quickly as possible, and to work hard alongside thousands of Canadians to stop any impending deportations.

Here's how:
Gerard Kennedy: Kennedy.G@parl.gc.ca
Bill Siksay: siksay.b@parl.gc.ca

With cc's to the Opposition Leaders and Immigration Critics:
Jack Layton: laytoj@parl.gc.ca
Michael Ignatieff: Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca
Gilles Duceppe: duceppe.g@parl.gc.ca
Thierry St-Cyr: st-cyr.t@parl.gc.ca
Olivia Chow: chow.o@parl.gc.ca
Maurizio Bevilacqua: bevilm0@parl.gc.ca

MP Bill Siksay is a long-time champion of US war resisters in Canada. He was the first MP to introduce a motion in support of war resisters, many years ago. That motion didn't pass, but it helped blaze our trail. Mr Siksay is a person of conscience, and he deserves our thanks.

In the last election, Gerard Kennedy inherited the Toronto riding with the highest concentration of war resisters. (Parkdale-High Park was formerly represented by NDP Member Peggy Nash, an stalwart supporter of our cause.) Mr Kennedy has shown himself to be committed to helping his war resister constituents. He sees allowing US war resisters to stay in Canada as completely consistent with mainstream Canadian values, and believes the Conservative minority government is not only wrong, but out of step with Canada. You can see video of some remarks Kennedy made in Parkdale, in support of Kim Rivera and other war resisters, and more recently in support of Rodney Watson.

Also: thank you. I lift this from an email from Michelle Roubidoux, coordinator of the War Resister Support Campaign.
And finally, this Bill would not have seen the light of day without the tireless efforts of thousands of volunteers, MPs, and of course the courageous Iraq war resisters themselves who continue to speak out against the war. Thanks – and most important, don’t let up the pressure!

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