TheStar.com | Canada | MPs vote to give asylum to U.S. military deserters
MPs vote to give asylum to U.S. military deserters
Email Story
Report Typo
AddThis

 

Harper government free to ignore motion passed 137 to 110 by opposition parties
Jun 04, 2008 04:30 AM

Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA–Megan Bean admits she was a little naive to think the Iraq war was all about peacekeeping.

"We were over there to maintain the peace and we were trying to hand it over to the Iraqis," said the 19-year-old from Titusville, Penn., who joined the U.S. Navy out of high school with husband Chris Bean, 19. "This is what we always heard."

The couple fled for uncertain amnesty in Canada last month when they learned Chris would be involuntarily sent on a combat mission to Iraq to take part in what they came to believe was an unjust war.

"You don't sign up for (the U.S. Navy) to see a bunch of people kill for no reason," Megan said.

The young couple was in Ottawa yesterday to celebrate a motion passed by all three opposition parties in the House of Commons urging the government to allow U.S. military deserters and their families to remain in Canada as permanent residents instead of deporting them to face possible jail time.

But the motion is non-binding and the victory was bittersweet as the government is likely to ignore it.

"We're worried that (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper might not follow the advice of a majority of the members of the House of Commons who voted today," NDP Leader Jack Layton told reporters yesterday.

"He has had a tendency to turn his back on the message of peace that so many Canadians would want to bring forward and the welcome that they would want to offer to those who have expressed this particular courage."

The motion – which passed 137-110 – comes about a week before 25-year-old Corey Glass is supposed to leave Canada voluntarily after the former national guardsman was rejected as a refugee and ordered out of the country.

New Democrat MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina), who brought in the motion, said Canadians had to push the government to provide a safe haven for Vietnam War resisters and are proud of that history.

"The government had to listen, even though they didn't want to in the beginning," she said.

"I believe the same thing is going to happen, because Canadian values haven't changed that much in terms of we are a peaceful country and we want to allow people that would be deported to jail to stay in Canada."

Citizenship and Immigration spokesperson Danielle Norris said there is a difference between those who dodged the draft for the Vietnam War and those who enlisted.

"Those coming to Canada now volunteered for military service," she said, adding war resisters are welcome to try to immigrate or apply for refugee status but must follow the same rules as everyone else.

Advertisement
Advertisement
SPECIAL
For months, Stephanie Ampuero Lucas hemmed and hawed about going to camp.
John Hancock (Will Smith) takes the crab cake in this summer of grumpy supermen. He's more corrosive than Iron Man and flintier ...
When you think of iconic Canadian style, the Hudson's Bay blanket, toque, mukluks and plaid shirt come to mind. As classic and enduring ...
Whether you're into sandcastles or salsa dancing, here are our picks for the best family destinations in the GTA this month