Thursday, May 03, 2007

Northern exposure

Interesting story on about U.S. military deserters from the Iraq coming to Canada, and how under Steve Harper’s Conservative government the environment is decidedly less welcoming than it was back in the day. Some troubling examples as well of Canadian authorities working on the behest of the U.S. Army to track down, arrest and even harass deserters.

Northern exposure
American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era.

By Gregory Levey

May 3, 2007 | TORONTO -- One morning in late February, Canadian police arrived at a house in the small town of Nelson, British Columbia, and arrested Kyle Snyder, a U.S. soldier who had gone AWOL from the Army. Snyder, a former combat engineer who left the United States in April 2005 to avoid deployment for a second tour in Iraq, was detained for several hours but never charged with a crime. It remains unclear why he was arrested.

The local police said they were told to detain Snyder by the Canadian Border Services Agency but acknowledged that the immigration agency was not their "original source" for information on Snyder. In fact, Snyder was released after a Canadian immigration official contacted the local police and informed them there was no basis for Snyder's detention. After he was back home, Snyder said he was told by Josie Perry, the Canadian immigration official who ordered his release, that his arrest had come at the behest of officials from the U.S. Army.

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1 comment:

Mark Dowling said...


"Back in the day" we welcomed involuntary draftees - probably some deserters too but there was a sense, probably originating from the Conscription crises, that people should be allowed choose service in the army especially if they object to overseas service in controversial conflicts. By going north, in much smaller numbers, their situation gets far less coverage and thus prods US public opinion far less.

Someone like Ehren Watada, who refused deployment and is standing trial, will get more publicity and thus negative push against the Iraq fiasco than any of the deserters seeking asylum in Canada.

Finally - what the Salon article doesn't say is that some of these guys arrived here before 6 Feb 2006 - the welcome mat wasn't out then either. Don't fall into the same trap Cherniak is in (regarding Hillier and the detention agreement).