B.C. groups to protest impeding deportation of war resister

Posted by admin on Sep 9th, 2009

By Jack Keating, Vancouver Province. September 9, 2009

VANCOUVER — Federal opposition MPs and local Vancouver religious and labour leaders will unite Thursday to urge Immigration Minister Jason Kenney not to deport an American war veteran turned war resister back to the U.S. Rodney Watson, 31, was ordered to leave Canada by Friday or he will face deportation, despite two majority votes by Parliament that support allowing U.S. soldiers opposed to the Iraq war to stay in Canada. Rev. Ric Matthews, of Vancouver’s First United Church, said Kenney should allow Watson and other U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada “as we did with those evaded the draft for Vietnam, and consistent with our own decisions in Parliament.

“The (United) church has consistently been supportive of us respecting conscientious objectors, and honouring the decisions in 2008 and 2009 where Parliament voted to let the war resisters stay,” he said. “So that’s the principle that we’re holding our own country to.”

Matthews will be joined by NDP_MP Bill Siksay and Liberal MP_Ujjal Dosanjh, as well as Vancouver and District Labour Council President Bill Saunders at a press conference Thursday morning, organized by the War Resisters Support Campaign.

Watson, who signed up for the U.S. army in Kansas City, was sent to Iraq for 12 months. After his tour of duty ended in 2006, he fled to Vancouver to avoid being sent back for a second stint.

In June 2008, federal MPs had agreed — by a vote of 137-110 — that U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada to escape the war in Iraq should be allowed to stay here permanently. The House of Commons again voted in favour of a similar motion on March 30 of this year.

The Conservative government ignored the non-binding votes and has pushed ahead with deportations, ordering five American war resisters back to the U.S. since 2008.

Last June, immigration critics from all three federal opposition parties wrote to Kenney and reminded him that the majority of MPs had twice “voted to direct the government to immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may be commenced against Iraq war resisters and their families, and to establish a program to facilitate these war resisters requests for permanent resident status in Canada.”

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