Hell no, don't let them go!
Today's column, in case you hadn't moseyed on over to the Star's main site, is all about the war resisters facing deportation and prison, no thanks to our friends on the minority government side of the House of Commons.
True, in other times, she might have been shot.
But, when she signed on with the U.S. Army in 2006, she naively believed Iraq was all about rebuilding the country, creating democracy, keeping America safe from terrorists.
And why wouldn't she?
After all, the U.S. media were complicit in painting the false picture, never showing the death and destruction, rarely conveying the utter brutality of Baghdad and beyond, always broadcasting the White House spin about liberating Iraq.
What's more, it's now known that recruiters lied to so many of these poor country kids about what signing up would mean, and the videos didn't convey what was going on in Iraq.
For the record, I have one US vet friend (Lebanon) who vehemently disagrees with me on this score claiming, there was a war on! How stupid can you be? Maybe, but there was a huge machine of lies in operation, all the way from the White House to the TV networks to the recruiting stations.
But, as I point out, Rivera soon found out that this was a very different kind of ''war,'' and she couldn't bear to be a part of it.
So, while on leave in 2007, she quit Colorado for Canada with her husband and two children to seek refugee status. Now she has three kids, including baby Katie who was born in Toronto.
They have been facing deportation for months. Yesterday was D-Day but, on Wednesday, Rivera got an emergency stay until the results of her judicial review are in.
Now Prisoner L4830R35 in NAVCON Brig Miramar where he is serving 15 months – more than twice as long as another soldier who participated in the cold-blooded killing of four Iraqi men – Long has a felony conviction and is banned from Canada for 10 years, despite having a baby son here and a Canadian wife with multiple sclerosis.
But, then, Long probably is lucky he didn't get nailed for sedition. After all, he has repeatedly said that then-president George W. Bush was "a liar and a warmonger" for how he misled Americans into believing that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq was not all about the "corporate interests of oil."
But the colonel who court-martialled Long reports to officers who report to officers who reported to Bush. And she didn't much like the interviews he gave the Canadian media, which were the most damaging evidence used against him at his "trial."
Some 200 other Iraq war resisters are still in Canada, living day to day. They are, according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney – he who banned British anti-war MP George Galloway last week from Canada – "bogus refugee claimants" who are "clogging up the system."
No question, the system is taxed. Refugee claims are up dramatically. But U.S. war resisters are easy to check out. Their fates are crystal clear.
Not only do they face certain prison sentences but they also are marked for life by a Canadian system that hands them over in cuffs and does not give them the option of turning themselves in to get lighter terms.
Is this the Canada we know and love? The one that welcomed 30,000 Vietnam War resisters? The one that, under Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, saw through the Bushies' bogus claims and refused to join the "Coalition of the Willing"? The one who, along with the United Nations, considered the "Shock and Awe" campaign illegal?
We interrupt this rant to clear up a common misconception: Many people feel these Iraq deserters are different from the Vietnam draft dodgers because they enlisted. True, they did -- as did many of the guys who came to Canada after the draft was ended in 1972. The men who volunteered after 1972 were mostly poorer and less-educated, not unlike many of the troops in Iraq, than the draft dodgers who got nailed as soon as they graduated from college. They too were deserters.
In Kenney's Canada, even the page on Citizenship and Immigration's website that celebrates those Vietnam War deserters and draft dodgers as "the largest, best-educated group" of new citizens "ever received" has been sent down the memory hole, wiped from the record.
In Kenney's Canada, where 64 per cent of Canadians say they support the resisters, and where two votes on Parliament Hill to stop the deportations have already passed, the U.S. military gets its man or, in Rivera's case, mom.
Yesterday, the NDP's Olivia Chow put forward a motion to allow those who "left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada."
The vote is expected Monday night.
Let Jason Kenney and your MP know that Canadians don't salute the Pentagon: resisters.ca.
Incidentally, there is a website currently under construction with bios of many of the Vietnam era guys who came and stayed. They did a lot for Canada.
But more important to me, is what Canada can do for the world.
Why can't we be a beacon for peace?
Let them stay!
UPPITY WOMEN DATE: From Olivia Chow's Twitter update about an hour ago:
My motion to let war resisters stay just passed in Parliament again
I can't find a wire story on it yet, if one is even forthcoming.
So I can only guess that a majority of MPs have once again voted to let the resisters stay. Will the Stephen Harper Cons listen to the will of the people?