March 27, 2009

In Canada: Vote on War Resisters is Monday

Yesterday's debate in the House of Commons on the fate of US war resisters in Canada was alternately uplifting and irritating, depending on who was speaking. 

The Conservatives tried to shut down the debate (quelle surprise), first running down the clock blathering about Jane Creba (young woman murdered in Toronto in 2005; relevance, your honour?), then moving to adjourn the debate entirely. The vote on adjournment squeaked by in our favour, 128-125. Too close for comfort, but it got things rolling.

After Olivia Chow put forth the motion, our supporters in Parliament came out very strong. I had never heard Thierry St-Cyr, Bloc Immigration Critic, before, and he was excellent. Maurizio Bevilacqua, Liberal Immigration Critic, was also strong. Our friend Borys Wrzesnewskyj kicked ass, as did Gerard Kennedy. Bill Siksay, always in our corner, was terrific, and there was an unexpected assist from Megan Leslie (NDP, Halifax), among others.

Their side had nothing. They spouted the usual lies and evasions, one time even defending the Iraq War and listing the evils of Saddam Hussein. (Thanks, guys! Polls show more than 80% of Canadians oppose the Iraq War, so if you want to talk it up, knock yourselves out!)

The debate showed me how much stronger our Liberal support is now, compared to last June. The Liberals were on board then, and certainly some key Liberal MPs were personally supportive, but there is clearly strong party support now.

The vote on the Motion is Monday, March 30. The Conservatives are sure to whip the vote and get every Member in the House. If your MP is NDP, Liberal or Bloc, please contact her or him. Make sure they will attend the vote on Monday, to vote along with their party in support of allowing US war resisters to stay in Canada.

Please also contact Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. Info below.

As before, this Motion is non-binding and the Conservatives can continue to ignore it. However, its passage is crucial to the overall campaign. A strong affirmation of the support of the majority of Canadians, as expressed through their elected officials, is an important message - for the public, for the media, for the legal cases, and eventually, for the passage of a law.

To refresh, here's the text of the motion.

...that the government immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members (partners and dependents), who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and that the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may have already commenced against such individuals.

* * * *

1. Please call Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Official Opposition:

Ottawa: 613.995.9364
Constituency: 416.251.5510

Points to raise:

- thank the Liberal Party for supporting Iraq war resisters in the debate in Parliament, March 26,

- thank Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal Party for voting in support of the 2008 motion in support of Iraq War resisters, and for Canada's stance in not joining the war in Iraq, and

- ask the Liberals to be sure to attend and to vote again with a united opposition to defeat the Conservatives on US Iraq War resisters on Monday, March 30.

2. Contact your Member of Parliament.

If your MP is a member of the opposition, ask him or her to reaffirm their support by ensuring that all MPs attend and vote in support of war resisters.

Every call and every email makes a difference. Please help us show, once again, the wide support for US war resisters in Canada - and what kind of country you want Canada to be.
-thanks to Laura at We Move To Canada

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