I first wrote this as an op-ed for Canada papers, but thought it worth running as the year runs down. “Canada deserves its image as a haven, however clouded. And if it yet again embraced its role as a refuge from militarism, we would all be the richer for it, on both sides of the border.”
Two hundred years ago, Canada had been fighting off invaders for nearly six months; with First Nations allies, U.S. forces had been defeated at Detroit and Queenston. In addition to the invaluable coalition with Native forces including the great Tecumseh, the invasions failed in part due to the refusal of some brave soldiers to participate. If they had crossed the border, some might doubtless have remained in Canada afterward and sought refuge — just like an intrepid crew of American soldiers has done since the illegal Iraq war began.
This past fall, Kimberly Rivera became the most high-profile Iraq resister to be denied sanctuary by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who refused to acknowledge that she’d be arrested when she crossed the border. Many, if not most, Canadians supported her expulsion, saying what former Prime Minister Trudeau’s “refuge from militarism” was never meant for deserters, especially in these days without official…
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