‘Dear Canada, let them stay’
Rallies in 14 cities support war resisters
Published Feb 3, 2008 8:47 PM
Anti-war activists delivered tens of thousands of letters and petitions on Jan.
25 to Canadian consulates in eight cities across the United States. The
“Dear Canada: Let U.S. war resisters stay” letters ask that the
Canadian government allow the resisters now seeking sanctuary in Canada to
San Francisco action in front of the
Jef Paterson/Courage To Resist
In New York, Washington, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles,
supporters gathered outside Canadian consulates to show support for the war
resisters. Meanwhile, on Jan. 26 in Canada, war resisters and their supporters
in Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, London, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Nelson, Vancouver,
and Victoria also rallied to demand that the Parliament take urgent action to
stop possible deportations of four of the war resisters, several with
The rallies urged the Canadian House of Commons to adopt a recommendation of
its Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that would make it possible for
U.S. Iraq War resisters to obtain permanent resident status in Canada.
In San Francisco, the delegation to the Canadian Consulate was led by Pablo
Paredes and Mike Wong. Paredes is a former U.S. sailor who refused orders to
return to Iraq, and is now a GI Rights Hotline counselor. In December 2004 at
Camp Pendleton, Calif., he publicly refused to get on a ship returning to Iraq.
“I don’t want to be part of a ship that’s taking 3,000
Marines over there, knowing a hundred or more of them won’t come
back,” he told reporters at the time. Mike Wong is a Vietnam War-era
veteran who chose exile in Canada for five years in the 1970s.
Courage to Resist in collaboration with the War Resisters Support Campaign
(Canada) initiated the actions at Canadian consulates across the U.S. They had
the support of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and many other
This event was the first nationally coordinated action in the U.S. in support
of war resisters in Canada. Since the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of
Iraq, many soldiers have been going AWOL (Absent Without Leave). GIs who have
publicly refused to deploy—or re-deploy—to Iraq have been
court-martialed and imprisoned. Thousands of service people are AWOL and are
believed to be in hiding in the U.S. and abroad. Hundreds have fled to
In a poll last August, 65 percent of respondents in Ontario, Canada’s
largest province, said U.S. soldiers should be allowed to settle in Canada. The
poll results were broken down by party affiliation: 71 percent of Liberal
voters, 74 percent of NDP (social democratic) voters, and 53 percent of
Conservative voters said, “Let them settle in Canada.”
Parliamentary representatives of the Liberals united with the NDP and the Bloc
Quebecois last November to approve a resolution that soldiers who refuse to
fight in a war not approved by the U.N. should be allowed to stay in Canada.
The resolution is now due for debate and a possible vote in the full Parliament
The Canadian rallies featured war resisters speaking on their own behalf, along
with members of the War Resisters Support Campaign, which includes the Canadian
Labour Congress, the United Church of Canada and many local groups. In Toronto,
Olivia Chow, the member of Parliament who introduced the resolution demanding
resisters be allowed to stay, was a featured speaker.
One of the war resister speakers was Joshua Key, whose recently published
memoir, “The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who
Walked Away from the War in Iraq,” has won international acclaim. The
documentary film “Breaking Ranks,” featuring the stories of
numerous U.S. war resisters in Canada, was shown at several of the rallies in
Canada. It was also recently aired nationally on CBC, the national Canadian TV
Gerry Condon, a Vietnam War-era resister who dedicates his time to supporting
Iraq War resisters, said, “We have achieved a valuable goal—this is
the first nationally coordinated action in the U.S. in support of our war
resisters in Canada. Various elements of the peace movement participated in
this together. This is also another important step in the reorientation of much
of the antiwar movement to the importance of defending our war
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