Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Parliament urges Canada to end war resister deportations


Parliament urges Canada to end war resister deportations

On a 137-110 vote, Canadian lawmakers approve the nonbinding motion. It could lead to a last-minute reprieve for a U.S. soldier who deserted in 2006 and has been ordered to leave Canada by June 12.

By Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:41 PM PDT, June 3, 2008

OTTAWA -- Parliament passed a motion this afternoon calling on the Canadian government to stop deportation proceedings against foreign war resisters who have sought refuge in this key U.S. ally.

The measure, though nonbinding, could lead the government to offer a last-minute reprieve for Corey Glass, a 25-year-old American soldier who deserted to Canada in 2006 and has been ordered to leave the country by June 12.

Glass and a busload of resisters came to Ottawa to watch the pivotal hearing, and cheered from the gallery when the motion passed, 137-110.

"This is just great," Glass said. "We hope the will of the Canadian people will be carried out. We will see what happens next."

Despite Canada's history as a haven for as many as 50,000 Vietnam War draft resisters, the new conservative government has stood firm with the Bush administration in supporting the Iraq War and the detention of militants at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. But the pending change of U.S. political leadership gives hope to resisters for a change in Canadian policy as well.

"Canada has always been a place that welcomes those who seek peace and freedom," said Bob Rae, a Liberal Party member of Parliament. "We want to see it remain that way."

Glass joined the National Guard in 2002 after assurances he would not see combat. But he was later deployed to Iraq, where he served as a military intelligence officer. He has said that witnessing the killing of civilians by U.S. troops made him want to quit after his first tour of duty.

"What I saw in Iraq convinced me that the war is illegal and immoral. I could not in good conscience continue to take part in it," Glass said last month after Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board denied him refugee status. It ruled that he did not face persecution if he returned to the United States.

Glass, who is still on active duty and considered absent without leave, has been working in a funeral home in Toronto since coming to Canada in August 2006.