This week’s Marine Corps Times alerted me to this AP story from last week reporting that a bill introduced in the Canadian Parliament on 17 September “would allow other countries’ military deserters to stay in Canada if their refusal to serve is based on sincere moral, political or religious objections.”  The article also reports that “[t]here are thought to be about 200 American military deserters who have come to Canada to avoid service in Iraq.”

13 Responses to “Bill in Canadian Parliament would allow U.S. deserters to remain in Canada (or Those who don’t remember the Sixties are doomed to repeat them)”

  1. Late Bloomer says:

    Moral relativism at its finest. Who gets to decide whether an objection is moral, political, or religious? The deserter? Gee…if only there were a process for objecting on conscientious grounds in the US military…[roll eyes].

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, one assumes it would be a Canadian body who would get to decide.

  3. Late Bloomer says:

    That’s precisely my point. Some Canadian magistrate/judge/court would potentially determine whether or not a deserter’s grounds for desertion fall within those categories. They are, in essence, telling the U.S. that persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may be exempted from that jurisdiction because, in their eyes, the person has a really good excuse. We are not talking about asylum here. Last I checked, we still have a volunteer military.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How is that any different than when we determine whether or not someone has a basis for asylum?

    To be honest, if you dont want to serve and are willing to stay away forever, then I don’t have a whole lot of heartache about it.

  5. JWS says:

    And when some private in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry skips across the border to avoid deployment, the US will do — what?

    I am reminded of the fact that more Canadians served in Vietnam as members of the US armed forces than Americans who skipped north. There were five in my company alone.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We’d probably have a hearing as well.

    Then we’d send them back.

  7. Christopher Mathews says:

    Is there any indication that this bill was prompted by animus toward U.S. policy, or is it simply a more general measure on how to treat this particular class of “immigrants?”

  8. Late Bloomer says:

    Anon @0914:

    It’s a matter of sovereignty. The U.S. says, “It is a crime for U.S. service members to desert.” Canada says, “No it isn’t.”

  9. Dew_Process says:

    [DISCLAIMER: I have been involved with 3 of the Canadian “desertion” cases]

    Generalizations produce overbroad and inaccurate characterizations. This legislation was prompted by litigation in the Canadian federal court system as well as administrative litigation in their Immigration / Refugee tribunals.

    Those, who’s cases have been adjudicated finally, who simply did not want to go to Iraq, lost and were administratively ordered deported. A couple have sought injunctive and other relief to stay the deportation orders in their federal courts. As the AP article notes, some have already been deported.

    In one case, where the Soldier had timely submitted a documented “CO” package, his unit simply refused to process it and he was told they would “look at it” after they returned from the deployment to Iraq.

    In another case, the Soldier again presented a documented CO package and the unit, at least temporarily redesignated him to a non-combatant status, but then waited until he had deployed to Afghanistan to decide to have his CO hearing, when of course he was there and his witnesses were in CONUS. The pro forma “hearing” was alleged to be a sham.

    In both of those cases, no military counsel was made available to the CO applicant, the military could have done more to comply with both the letter and spirit of the CO regulations/directives, and outright BAD legal advice was provided by certain purported “do good” legal groups.

    In the 3rd case, a female Soldier sought to be discharged because of sexual harassment over her sexual orientation. She requested separation in compliance with the DADT regulation – her 1st SGT told her that he didn’t care if she was a 3-eyed Martian or who she slept with, that the unit was already short of personnel and that she’d be discharged after deployment. When she began receiving death threats specifically directed towards her sexual orientation and was physically assaulted, she left after the unit declined to investigate.

    She would not fall within the parameters of the pending legislation and her asylum application is based upon the government’s failure to protect her after her DADT disclosure and physical assaults.

    My Canadian lawyer friends don’t think that the Bill has much chance of passing in any event.

    If any of the Canadian JAGs are reading this, please chime in.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “It’s a matter of sovereignty. The U.S. says, “It is a crime for U.S. service members to desert.” Canada says, “No it isn’t.””

    Ok, so then if a country says it is a crime to be gay and so we will execute or to be less controversial, a country says it is a crime to be Christian or a member of a political party, and we then give them asylum, we are violating the sovereignty of said country?

    As pointed out above, just because a law says (assuming it is passed), we will give someone the right to a hearing and if they meet a certain threshold even allow them to stay, does not mean that anyone will be found to meet said threshold.

    But I don’t think Canada is anymore violating our sovereignty (or if they are it is anymore wrong to do so) then when we give asylum in many (although obviously not all) cases where we do it.

    Now Canada might risk good relations with us if they give blanket protection to deserters. But odds are, that ain’t gonna happen.

  11. Anon says:

    Dew Process is correct, that this is not all that simple. First, the Canadians are not just taking in deserters. Second, the services in large part refuse to process CO applications in good faith. Even when everyone directly involved agrees the applicant is legit the application will be refused, or as was mentioned here, not even processed.

  12. Late Bloomer says:

    Anon 1623, we don’t try, convict and punish the alleged offendors on behalf of the other nation, we simply deport them. I do think that Canada is, at least, going about this the right way procedurally. If they have a federal law that is offended by our “law” or “policy”, then they can make an asylum argument. However, as pointed out above, if that law is motivated by political animus, I think the argument is specious at best.

  13. Anonymous says:

    1. Canada isnt trying or convicting or punishing they are deciding amnesty.

    2. When we get someone another country says is a criminal but we think might be a political prisoner or otherwise a candidate for amnesty, we are doing the exact same thing. It doesn’t make it more wrong simply because it is our ox being gored.

    3. Political animus? That’s a cute buzzword. The reality is, some nations, you can argue rightly or wrongly, disagree with our foreign policy or even how we treat in this case COs. I’m not defending or attacking their or our positions. but most certainly if they have someone in their borders, their obligation to “deport them no questions asked” doesn’t increase simply because it’s one of ours.