American political refugees in Canada ?

#1
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1740905,00.html

Hundreds of deserters from the US armed forces have crossed into Canada and are now seeking political refugee status there, arguing that violations of the rules of war in Iraq by the US entitle them to asylum.
A decision on a test case involving two US servicemen is due shortly and is being watched with interest by fellow servicemen on both sides of the border. At least 20 others have already applied for asylum and there are an estimated 400 in Canada out of more than 9,000 who have deserted since the conflict started in 2003.
 
#2
Canada was a safe haven for draft dodgers during the Vietnam war, it looks like it's going to be a sanctuary during the Iraq conflict as well.
 
#3
I am sure that this is helping with the general comradarie between nations especially since Canada has been so unsupportive of the US position and many Americans have complained about the Canadian media's anti -american stance. The Vietnam parallels seem to be ever increasing.
 
#4
The Vietnam stance is just like then on all fronts. Just might take as long to get troops outta Iraq as well....
 
#5
KGB:
don't be misled by everything you read in the ' press '.. There are less than 100 Americans, identified as active serving US military who have ' deserted ' to Canada, of which only 4 have officially petitioned for asylum/refugee status.. None of them have been granted anything other than a free meal, and a promise of an impartial hearing...

As for Canad's ' lack of support ' for American initiatives in the Middle East, again..crap.. while we were not active with ' boots on the ground ' in Iraq we did support the endeavour with a naval contingent,airborne surveillance, intel and ' covert ops ' [ as evidenced by the recent Christian Pacifist rescues ]
And, in Afghanistan, Canada has currently 2800 troops, commands the Khandahar sector and, just yesterday lost one soldier and had three injured in a 4 and1/2 hour firefight with Taliban insurgents..

don't sell Canada short, we have always fought above our weight class and with the new PM Harper in the saddle [at least for now ] the ' support 'is being ramped up.. That, however, does not mean we will follow slavishly everything that Dubya spouts as ' gospel ' and necessary..for some, Canada's ' stance' vis a vis the USA is more admirted than Tony Blair's response and let's leave it at that....
 
#6
I'd be quite surprised to find out that there were "hundreds of deserters" up here. I know there are a few and although it might take a while, I am confident that they will be escorted over the border and handed over to the US forces in due course.

I believe the one has already has his refugee claim denied by the board and he is awaiting the decision of the appeal board. If I were him, I would be getting ready for a nice long stay in Leavenworth.

In general, outside of the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor as well as Victoria on the Left Coast, I don't think these deserters have too many friends. Unlike Viet Nam era draft dodgers, these guys are volunteers to a man. They signed up for whatever reason, but when their country called on them, their choice was to scarper. The urban "elite" may like them, but they don't need to try and order a beer in any bar in Alberta.

Just my take, but I am rather doubtful that hundreds of deserters are up here.
 
#7
Rocketeer said:
don't be misled by everything you read in the ' press '.. There are less than 100 Americans, identified as active serving US military who have ' deserted ' to Canada, of which only 4 have officially petitioned for asylum/refugee status..
Thank yuo for replay Rocketeer. Indeed Guardian could print fantasies.

You say that there are no more than 100 American deserters in Canada. What is the source of your information?

I agree that it is a hard task to count deserters and there are different estimates.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N08332896.htm

There are believed to be some 200 U.S. deserters from the Iraq war in Canada, and several are awaiting hearings on their asylum claims.
 
#9
KGB:
If there were a ' significant number' of American military deserters in Canada, the leftleaning pacifist anti-Bush-ites would be touting this to all the media as an indication of how evil/illegal the war in Iraq etc. is... blah,blah.. they are not.. The Canadian press has all but ignored the ' plight' of these Americans and when a story is reported, usually in regard to their claim process, it warrants barely a mention on a back page near the comics..

As I stated only 4 have been ' officially' acknowledged and only one is in the appeals/final stage, having lost his claim to stay at a lower level.. He is now trying to get his status adjudicated on the basis that the War in Iraq was an unsanctioned act by the US President bypassing the Congress and House of Representatives in the ' declaration ' of war. So far the tribunals here have declined to or claim they have no jurisdiction to comment on US policy [ rightly so ]..

further, the American government has not made any formal request for the return of any of its nationals or asked for extradition of them on the grounds that they have broken US military law by deserting in the first place.. Obviously the Americans can't be bothered, suggesting, again, that the numbers are so insignificant that its not worth their while to persue.. They'll eventually pick them up when the ' homesick ' boys try to go home to ma at some future date.. just as they recently nabbed an American VietNam deserter out west, 38 years after he ' defected', when he went south to do a little shopping and visit his relatives.
 
#10
The US military tends to have a policy that deserters aren't worth the time and effort taken to go after them, unless they make it worth the effort. The blokes gone up to Canada, you know they'll be picked up when they come back. That's not to say they won't deal with them if they come up: Deserters have to be sure they don't as much as get pulled over for a speeding ticket: If the name comes up on the computer, they'll be arrested.

When I was going to Basic in Ft Knox, I shared a cab with a women who was turning herself in. She had decided fairly shortly into her tour that the Army wasn't for her, and buggered off about 6 weeks earlier. She made a few calls, and it was agreed that she would show up for outprocessing. Took a couple of weeks, she handed back all her kit, got an Other Than Honorable, and off she went on her merry way.

I don't think political refugee is going to work. They are not persecuted for their beliefs in the US, and if they really don't want to fight, there's a Conscientious Objector option that can be taken up: We had a CO in our company, he was eventually outprocessed. I can't see any reason for Canada to grant the claim.

NTM
 
#11
Rocketeer!

Reasonable remarks. Anyway 100-200 or even 400 alleged American deserters in Canada is an insignificant number taking into account that there are 9000 of them after the start of Iraqi war.

California_Tanker said:
I don't think political refugee is going to work. They are not persecuted for their beliefs in the US, and if they really don't want to fight, there's a Conscientious Objector option that can be taken up: We had a CO in our company, he was eventually outprocessed. I can't see any reason for Canada to grant the claim.

NTM
So anybody who don't want to serve can quit the Army at arbitrary moment? Is it possible in Iraq?
 
#12
KGB_resident said:
So anybody who don't want to serve can quit the Army at arbitrary moment? Is it possible in Iraq?
It's not easy, and it takes time. From when the private in question handed notice of his CO desires, (Upon mobilisation) it took some nine months.

As the system took its time, and we all went to Iraq, we put him in a non-shooty role, working in the armoury and radio room. I left the company for another one part-way through, but according to my friends, he did quite a good job, until about half-way-in the system finally caught up, and he was sent home.

There is no guarantee that the Army will let you out entirely, they may just transfer you somewhere else. For example, a WWII chappie died this week who was a CO, still went into the Army, became a medic, and was awarded the Medal of Honor. (His citation is astounding). However, given today's all-volunteer army, COing is a career breaker, they probably figure may as well get rid of him.

But, you ask, how about all those stop-loss people complaining, who get sent? Can they not CO? Answer is not usually: A CO request is not automatically granted: If the seniors believe that it's simple gold-bricking, you will find the application not going anywhere. In our case, the CO in question had been re-roled into a shooty job for the deployment, and just by working with him for a week, you realise he really is a quiet person who wouldn't hurt a fly if possible. That he went to Iraq with us and willingly fulfilled his non-shooty job we assigned him to indicates that his COing was probably honest. (I've not asked, but I wonder if he had known that we could internally assign him a non-shooty job that he would have still filed for CO?) That sort of thing is presumably going to be viewed more favourably than someone who signed onto the Army for a shooty job, is being sent to Iraq to be a combat troop, and then decides he doesn't like killing people.

NTM
 
#13
KGB_resident said:
Reasonable remarks. Anyway 100-200 or even 400 alleged American deserters in Canada is an insignificant number taking into account that there are 9000 of them after the start of Iraqi war.
Worth taking a look at http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/desertionrates.htm

Point to note: Army desertion rate for 2004 was the lowest since 1997. Also, the peak number was 2001, and the US hadn't really set about invading anywhere with anything major then. But 9,000 is about right for all services over the last three years.

NTM
 
#14
California_Tanker said:
KGB_resident said:
Reasonable remarks. Anyway 100-200 or even 400 alleged American deserters in Canada is an insignificant number taking into account that there are 9000 of them after the start of Iraqi war.
Worth taking a look at http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/desertionrates.htm

Point to note: Army desertion rate for 2004 was the lowest since 1997. Also, the peak number was 2001, and the US hadn't really set about invading anywhere with anything major then. But 9,000 is about right for all services over the last three years.

NTM
Thanks for interesting information.

I suppose that number of deserters in American army will be even lower next years. Previously many potential desrters regarded the army as something like a camp of adult scouts. Prospect of real warfare was unclear. Now any potential recruit understands pretty well that Iraq is a bitter reality.
 
#15
Rab658 said:
Canada was a safe haven for draft dodgers during the Vietnam war, it looks like it's going to be a sanctuary during the Iraq conflict as well.
...Yeah but no but yeah, at least THREE TIMES as many Canucks cossed the border and volunteered to serve in Vietnam. So no net loss there!
 
#16
Walt/walt:
exactly.. the figure generally agreed upon for Canadian volunteers for VietNam stands at 40 / 50,000 [ know a couple personally - one ' old ' sgt at the local legion has a bronze star among other bits and ribbons ]

As it stands right now there are a small but significant number of Canadians serving in Iraq as part of the US forces [a bunch of them First Nations Natives from Maritime Reserves ] think the numbers are in the order of 150/200 , but there are volunteers from across the country [ mostly eligible because they have parents who were/are American citizens..] in other areas not the pointy end. Canada doesn't ' allow' its citizens to serve in forgeign military - though there aresome exemptions.. The wife has a padre under her wing who, though Canadian, served as a US Army Chaplain/Rabbi before releasing and returning to the True North..

Think on the whole America actually comes out ahead on this issue..gets rid of cowards/Concientious Objectors and gets Gung Ho, rah rah types in return.. win/win...
 
#17
here's the latest from this morning's fishwrap:

U.S. army deserter, Joshua Key in seeking asylum in Canada recounted for the tribunal tales of him witnessing US soldiers using the severed heads of Iraqis as soccer balls among other ' atrocities' during his tour in the war zone..
he is one of 20 Americans seeking ' safety' in Canada...The War Resisters Support Campaign says that as many as 100 deserters are living here in ' underground' status.
US Military sources acknowledge that approximately 8000 soldiers have deserted [ AWOL after a specified period of time ] since America invaded Iraq in 2003.

Key's claim is that he signed on to the military for education and skills training and requested not to be deployed to any combat arena as he had a wife and 3 kids. - he was sent anyway and when he complained, disputing the terms of his contract, he was 'smoked' by his squad leader and abused by higher ups [ for not reading the fine print I assume ]

The tribunal has been listening to his reports as he is the first refugee claimant to actually have had combat experience before defecting. [ he served 8 months in Iraq as a combat engineer ]

Army deserters from Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Israel have been granted asylum in Canada but no soldiers from countries without conscription have been allowed to stay. The tribunal has stated that it will not consider evidence about the legality of the war and that any refugee seeker must establish that they would face persecution [ not prosecution ] if returned.. The maximum penalty for desertion in the US is 5 years imprisonment [ but, so far no one has ever been given the max and many have merely been processed out with loss of rank, pay and benefits ]

Mr. Key works as a welder while awaiting the ruling on his claim..
 
#18
I wish the government would just send the entire lot of them back from whence they came. Should be pretty simple: no draft=no asylum.

My only other concern is once they rule that the first knob has to be handed back, the rest will "disappear" on the streets - while their wives and families still draw benefits from our welfare and health care systems. Utterly worthless pieces of trash.
 
#19
Key's claim is that he signed on to the military for education and skills training and requested not to be deployed to any combat arena
Oh, great. The Army is no longer a warfighting machine, it's a job training scheme.

NTM
 
#20
California_Tanker said:
Key's claim is that he signed on to the military for education and skills training and requested not to be deployed to any combat arena
Oh, great. The Army is no longer a warfighting machine, it's a job training scheme.

NTM
But hasnt it always been? I remember seeing a documentary that featured Army recruiters tactics. Mostly they found the best way to get them through the door was to talk about the training and the GI bill. They often refferred to celebrities, sports stars, even local sucessful businessmen as ex-army who had made good use of the training in the army and the GI bill benefits after.

I was looking at British Army recruitment material recently, and now the heavy emphasis on training and qualifications you will receive, and hints strongly how useful that will be when/if you leave the army. 20 years ago they all banged on about mates for life, travel, adventure, social life and how many VCs the regiment had won! But strangely they didnt have the recruitment and retention problems they have now? Baffling. And the pay was crap then too!

I just hope that somewhere alomng the line they point out that all soldiers are 'death technicians' first and other trades/professions second
 

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