War Resisters Support Campaign

War Resisters Support Campaign

June 01, 2016 06:30 ET

Paul Copeland Urges Trudeau to Accept Iraq War Resisters as Permanent Residents of Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 1, 2016) - Eminent lawyer Paul Copeland, CM is joining a growing chorus of prominent Canadians and human rights, faith, and labour groups that are calling on Justin Trudeau to stop opposing U.S. Iraq War resisters in court and to let these conscientious objectors stay in Canada as permanent residents.

As a guest columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, Copeland writes:

"Conscientious objectors are the ultimate example of a modern and democratic society's whistleblower."

"An American soldier will be morally responsible for war crimes in the field (i.e., killing civilians), yet that same soldier faces punishment if she speaks out against war crimes. … It's lose-lose for a U.S. soldier with a conscience."

"Canada, under the leadership of then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, decided not to join the disastrous [Iraq] war precisely because it was a war of aggression - the worst international crime of all."

"The resisters have been seeking resolution to their precarious immigration status in Canada for many years - some for more than a decade. The Liberal government could easily resolve their precarious status by granting their spousal sponsorships and applications for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds."

In the fall of 1969, with his then law partner Clayton Ruby and five York University students, Copeland exposed the unofficial closure of the Canadian border to Vietnam War resisters who had left the U.S. Army.

Currently, Iraq War resister and veteran Rodney Watson remains inside Vancouver's First United Church. If the Trudeau government does not soon change course-as promised in pre-election campaigning last summer-Rodney will have to begin his 7th year as as a prisoner of conscience in sanctuary on September 18.

Four other resisters are scheduled to have a judicial review of their cases heard by the Federal Court in Toronto this fall. The government has been given a September 16 deadline to decide whether or not it will continue to pursue the Conservatives' policy of opposing these conscientious objectors in court.

Since 2008, there have been 12 Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeals decisions in favour of Iraq War resisters. Unfortunately, the limited remedy available to the courts is to send back cases for reconsideration by immigration officials who are still subject to the instructions in the previous government's prejudicial Operational Bulletin 202. The current government is re-litigating many issues that have already been found in the war resisters' favour by the Canadian courts and is defending the Harper government's position that it is acceptable to imprison conscientious objectors.

The War Resisters Support Campaign is asking Immigration Minister John McCallum and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to:

1. Stop the deportation of U.S. war resisters;

2. Stop pursuing war resister cases in court, as doing so defends decisions and policies made by the former Conservative government;

3. Rescind the prejudicial Citizenship and Immigration Canada Operational Bulletin 202; and

4. Implement a new operational bulletin that restores fairness for all U.S. war resister cases.

Federal Court/Federal Court of Appeal decisions in favour of U.S. war resisters

1. Joshua Key - July 2008

2. James Corey Glass - July 2008

3. Jeremy Hinzman - September 2008

4. Matthew Lowell - September 2008

5. Dean Walcott - January 2009

6. Kimberly Rivera - March 2009

7. Kimberly Rivera - August 2009

8. Jeremy Hinzman - July 2010 (Federal Court of Appeal)

9. Dean Walcott - April 2011

10. Chris Vassey - July 2011

11. Jules Tindungan - February 2013

12. D.G.L. - October 2014

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