Campaign to continue to fight for status for Iraq War resisters
War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada). September 29, 2010
OTTAWA–Despite support by the majority of Canadians for US Iraq War resisters, Bill C-440 An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (war resisters) – failed to pass at second reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening. While the bill received strong support from a large majority of opposition members of parliament, it needed 7 more votes to pass.
“This is a setback for Iraq War resisters seeking permanent resident status in Canada, but our campaign to make the government respect the will of the majority of Canadians on this issue is far from over,” said Michelle Robidoux, a spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. “These courageous men and women have the support of two-thirds of Canadians across the country, and they are still threatened with punishment if returned to the United States.”
“Over the past few weeks, some MPs had expressed concern about the scope of Bill C-440 as it was presented,” said Robidoux. “We will be working with opposition MPs to find a way to give effect to Parliament’s two votes, in 2008 and 2009, in favour of letting Iraq War resisters stay.”
Two motions that were previously adopted by Parliament which directed the Conservative minority government to immediately cease deportations of Iraq War resisters and facilitate their requests for permanent resident status have been ignored despite public opinion polls indicating that 64 per cent of voters support Parliament’s direction.
The Harper government has repeatedly interfered with the cases of war resisters that are supposed to be considered on a case-by-case basis by making blatantly prejudicial comments and issuing an operational directive that intrude on the independence of both Immigration and Refugee Board members and immigration officers.
Coincidentally, Wednesday was also the last day of the Government of Canada’s window to challenge the Federal Court of Appeal decision in the case of resister Jeremy Hinzman. In a unanimous ruling on July 6, 2010, the Federal Court of Appeal held that the government’s assessment of Mr. Hinzman’s bid to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds was substantially flawed because it did not take into account his sincerely held religious, moral and political beliefs against service in the war in Iraq. Jeremy’s case will now be sent back for reconsideration by a different immigration officer in accordance with the court’s ruling.
The government’s failure to file an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in Mr. Hinzman’s case means that the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision stands.
“Canadians expect that their government will treat everyone with basic fairness,” said Robidoux. “Minister Jason Kenney must ensure immigration officers stop issuing the cookie-cutter decisions that have ignored the Iraq War resisters’ motivations for coming to Canada, and instead follow the direction of the court that each individual’s circumstances should be considered.”