American Deserters Not Welcome in Canada

Rick Moran
For those few Americans who decided to desert their comrades by running off to Canada prior to their deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and who thought that the Canadian government would give them a safe haven from US prosecution, I've got some great news; you aren't welcome there.

Unlike the role the Canadian government played during the Viet Nam War when thousands of young deserters and draft dodgers were welcomed with open arms, this time around it's a different story. The government of Prime Minister Harper has taken the position that these Americans are not refugees which the Canadians define as those who have a “well-founded fear of being persecuted” for religious, racial or political reasons and where their lives would be in danger if they returned to America.

That ain't happening which is why the Immigration department has been trying to expel 9 American deserters only to have the proceedings tied up in the courts.

There are only about 200 American deserters in Canada (only 50 have applied for immigrant status which means the rest are living there illegally). Compare that with the 12,000 deserters who were welcomed during the Viet Nam War. An all volunteer army has pretty much eliminated the real malcontents who sought to flee rather than fight with their comrades.

One such deserter claims that a National Guard recruiter told him "I’m not going to fight a war on foreign shores." The army claims that no recruiter would ever tell anyone any such thing. Who do you believe? The army? Or a deserter?

If Obama becomes president, I have no doubt there will be a great show of pardoning the deserters and welcoming them home. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. The true war protestors in the military stayed here and tried to make their case within the system. We may not like it but that is the kind of protest you make in a democracy - where you are willing to accept the consequences of your actions even if it's jail.

Many Canadians agree, as summed up by one Conservative Party member giving a speech in Parliament. He asks " Why do they not fight it within their own legal system instead of being faux refugees in Canada?”

The answer is because they remember hearing how warmly deserters were treated during the Viet Nam War and thought that the Canadian government were a soft touch. That appears not the case anymore.

What will happen when or if the deserters return? No doubt the army will choose to make an example of some. Others may simply get a dishonorable discharge which will follow them the rest of their lives.

Some might think that is letting them off easy.

For those few Americans who decided to desert their comrades by running off to Canada prior to their deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and who thought that the Canadian government would give them a safe haven from US prosecution, I've got some great news; you aren't welcome there.

Unlike the role the Canadian government played during the Viet Nam War when thousands of young deserters and draft dodgers were welcomed with open arms, this time around it's a different story. The government of Prime Minister Harper has taken the position that these Americans are not refugees which the Canadians define as those who have a “well-founded fear of being persecuted” for religious, racial or political reasons and where their lives would be in danger if they returned to America.

That ain't happening which is why the Immigration department has been trying to expel 9 American deserters only to have the proceedings tied up in the courts.

There are only about 200 American deserters in Canada (only 50 have applied for immigrant status which means the rest are living there illegally). Compare that with the 12,000 deserters who were welcomed during the Viet Nam War. An all volunteer army has pretty much eliminated the real malcontents who sought to flee rather than fight with their comrades.

One such deserter claims that a National Guard recruiter told him "I’m not going to fight a war on foreign shores." The army claims that no recruiter would ever tell anyone any such thing. Who do you believe? The army? Or a deserter?

If Obama becomes president, I have no doubt there will be a great show of pardoning the deserters and welcoming them home. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. The true war protestors in the military stayed here and tried to make their case within the system. We may not like it but that is the kind of protest you make in a democracy - where you are willing to accept the consequences of your actions even if it's jail.

Many Canadians agree, as summed up by one Conservative Party member giving a speech in Parliament. He asks " Why do they not fight it within their own legal system instead of being faux refugees in Canada?”

The answer is because they remember hearing how warmly deserters were treated during the Viet Nam War and thought that the Canadian government were a soft touch. That appears not the case anymore.

What will happen when or if the deserters return? No doubt the army will choose to make an example of some. Others may simply get a dishonorable discharge which will follow them the rest of their lives.

Some might think that is letting them off easy.