important news about bill c-440; info on hinzman decision

This week we learned that Bill C-440 will have its second hour of debate on September 27. Shortly after that, probably a few days later, the House of Commons will vote on the bill. If it passes, the bill will then be referred to the Citizenship and Immigration Committee, on which the opposition still holds a majority.

We know that all three opposition parties support Bill C-440. That much is not in question. But we also know that the Conservative government, especially the office of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, will do what it can to thwart its passage. We can assume that every Conservative Member of Parliament - that is, every "no" vote - will be in her and his seat on the day of the vote. Our margin for passage is slim, so we'll need every one of our "yes" votes in their seats as well.

We'll be calling on our supporters to help make this happen.

Of course we know an election may be called before September 27. Since we can do nothing about that, we have to just proceed with our plans and hope for the best.

* * * *

Last night's event - Dinner and a Movie in Support of the War Resisters Support Campaign - was a huge success. We were counting on 40 to 50 guests and had 70. The food was good, the dessert was spectacular, and the company was the best. I think everyone appreciated our new film, "War Resisters Speak Out," an hour-long version of an event Andy Barrie hosted in 2008. And I know everyone appreciated hearing from lawyer Alyssa Manning - she received a standing ovation!

Alyssa spoke briefly about the significance of the recent decision in the case of war resister Jeremy Hinzman and his partner Nga Nguyen.

As you may recall, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the Hinzmans' application to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds was not reviewed fairly, and ordered that it be re-decided by a different H&C officer.

Not only that, Alyssa said: the H&C must be reviewed and judged through a different lens. The justices on the Federal Court of Appeal agreed with Alyssa that the H&C officer had not taken into account Jeremy Hinzman's sincerely held moral and religious beliefs, and that these beliefs are essential to Jeremy's case. They ordered that the new H&C consider those beliefs.

This is a very exciting development. The right to conscientious objection to war is an emerging issue in human rights law, and this decision speaks to that cutting-edge work. When we conceiving of the right to conscientious objection to war as a human right, we make no distinction between a soldier who volunteered and one who was conscripted. That human right allows for selective objection - in other words, a soldier need not meet the onerous test engineered by the US military of objecting to all wars, all the time, for any reason. The human right of conscientious objection simply recognizes the right of any human to not participate in a war she or he finds repugnant for moral and/or religious reasons.

Alyssa went on to say that the recent Hinzman decision has the potential to impact other war resisters whose deeply held beliefs also were not taken into account in their H&C applications.

And, she said, the decision can help the Campaign overall, as it shows judicial support - institutional support, if you will - for the bill that we are trying to pass. It adds yet more proof that that there is a legal foundation for allowing US war resisters to remain in Canada, which may help bolster the resolve of some fence-sitting Members of Parliament.

Boyd Reimer - steadfast friend of war resisters and friend of wmtc - asked Alyssa about the significance of the unanimous decision. Alyssa said it is potentially very significant. The government can appeal this decision - we don't yet know if they will - and the fact that there was no dissenting opinion gives them very little room to maneuver.

The Hinzman decision also has potential significance beyond our specific campaign: beyond US objectors to the Iraq War. For me, this fight is about the lives of good people, the lives of my friends. But for all of us, this fight is about human rights - about saying no to war. That is why this fight matters.


Boyd M L Reimer said...

Yes, hearing Ms Manning speak of the significance of this Hinzman H&C ruling was very encouraging, indeed!

This became evident in her answer to all the questions she answered (including mine, but not only mine; thank you for your kind words).

My particular question was about the technical significance of the judgement’s use of the word “beliefs.” I asked Ms Manning if this significance applied only to “beliefs about all war,” or also included “beliefs about the Iraq war.”

She answered, “potentially it could be either.”

Her answer means that this ruling potentially has even more power to positively affect war resisters other than only Hinzman (who, as I understand it, has a "belief" against "all war.") Other resisters have a belief against just the Iraq war.

Also, on the angle about "conscientious objecting as a human right" ... some of your readers may be interested in this link from 1974. 1974 could still be considered "emerging" if viewed in the light the fact that people have been struggling for conscientious objector status rights for centuries.

And for centuries, there have been legal struggles on the issue of "Superior Orders" (ie. "the Nuremberg defense"). Here is a link to an "at a glance" summary table of a centuries-long historical overview which includes Hinzman's case.

You're right...this issue has GIGANTIC implications far beyond just the US Iraq war resisters. That's probably one of the reasons why so many of us are committed so strongly to this issue.

We in Canada are in a pivotal moment in world-wide human history....and it all happens between now and Sep 27, 2010...!

Speaking of commitment, I want to thank you for your own commitment to this issue, too. This blog is particularly helpful.

laura k said...

Boyd, thank you for always thanking me. :) And thank you for your steadfast commitment to the US Iraq War resisters and the larger issue of military resistance.

Thanks for that link. To me - and to all of us, I'm sure - it seems patently obvious that the right to not participate in a war is a basic human right. On this post I floated the idea that involuntary military service is a form of slavery. The more I thought about it, the more true it seemed.

On a much less important note, are my notes wrong? Did you not ask about the significance of the unanimous decision? Poor reporting on my part.