Dear Ms Finley:
I just watched the video on YouTube in which a man walks into a meeting to confront you about the IRB decision to deport Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman. First of all, it is regrettable that any Canadian citizen should have to interrupt you in a meeting in order to get a response. You have continually refused to meet with war resisters and their supporters on this important issue, which affects hundreds of people currently in Canada.
Secondly, the man in the video points out that a strong majority of Canadians support the war resisters and feel that they should be allowed to stay in Canada (repeated polling confirms this). As you know, a majority in parliament also voted to allow the war resisters to stay. Your response refers to a "system" and a "process" for these cases, and that you expect people to "obey the rules" and "respect all of our laws". What you fail to address is that you yourself and the Conservative government are not respecting the system and process in place in parliament, nor are you respecting the will of the Canadian people. On April 13, 2005, Stephen Harper himself said, "The Prime Minister has the moral responsibility to respect the will of the House". In refusing to honour the majority vote to allow the war resisters to stay in Canada, you and Stephen Harper are showing a lack of respect for democracy itself.
The war resisters have not made the decision to come to Canada lightly. They are disrupting their lives, and in some cases alienating family and friends. Yet they are committed to their refusal to fight in an illegal and immoral war. As a result of their strong commitment to their morals and their desire to do the right thing, they have also shown a commitment to contribute to Canadian society, finding jobs, paying taxes, and helping to publicize this issue - which is not always easy as many of them suffer PTSD as a result of the things they have seen or were forced to do while in Iraq. They are the kind of immigrants this country needs, not the kind we should be turning away.
I would be very interested to hear you address this issue.
Jeremy Hinzman was the first Iraq war resister to go public with his fight to be allowed to live in Canada. He and his family have been ordered to leave Canada by September 23, or be deported. Robin Long has already been deported and is now in jail in the US. Our fight to get Harper to do the right thing continues. In Toronto, there will be an emergency public meeting of the War Resisters Support Campaign on Wednesday, August 20, at 7:00 pm at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street. September 13 will be a pan-Canadian day of action. In the meantime, call the conservative scumbags or send an email:
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / Minister@cic.gc.ca
It's stuff like this that makes me resent the "honourable" title that gets used for MPs.
As always, thanks to Laura at wmtc for the information, and for keeping us updated.
PS: here's the video, for those who haven't seen it.