VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - July 16, 2016) - NDP critic for Immigration, Citizenship, and Refugees, Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East) is calling on the Liberal government to reverse the course taken by the previous Conservative government and make the necessary changes to allow American conscientious objectors to remain in Canada.
"Canadians know that the 2003 war in Iraq was unjust and led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians," Kwan said, "We must return to our tradition of providing refuge to conscientious objectors, just as the Liberals promised in the last election."
During the campaign, the Liberal Party promised to rescind a Conservative government order-Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Operational Bulletin 202-that classified war resisters as criminals and therefore ineligible for residency in Canada.
Rodney Watson, a U.S. Army veteran and resister, has been forced to live in sanctuary for nearly seven years so he would not be indefinitely separated from his Canadian born son. "Right now Rodney cannot leave the church, not even to visit his son," Kwan said. "This situation does not reflect Canadian values or our history of being a safe haven. The Liberals promised to do something about it, but so far we've seen no action."
"Rodney and others like him took a moral stand against the illegal Iraq War," said Sarah Bjorknas, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. "Rodney is a man of principles and compassion who cares for his family. This government has the ability to resolve the situation today and they must not allow it to go beyond the seven year anniversary of Rodney being in sanctuary."
"I know I did the right thing in saying 'no' to the Iraq War, and many Canadians have supported me in this stand. I'm asking the Liberal government to also do the right thing by finally letting me walk out of this church to stay in Canada."
During the Vietnam War, Canada accepted some 50,000 conscientious objectors from the United States. While 200 American soldiers sought protection in Canada following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, today less than 25 remain.