Sunday, July 5, 2009

Harper Tories delete Vietnam history

Iraq war resisters decry Tories'
website editing

Toronto Star: The Harper government is denying claims that it stripped a section on Vietnam from a federal website to boost its case for deporting Iraq war resisters. Text on how both draft dodgers and resisters of the Vietnam War were ultimately allowed to stay in Canada suddenly vanished from the Citizenship and Immigration site earlier this year.

'Starting in 1965, Canada became a choice haven for American draft-dodgers and deserters,' it read as it appeared online in February. 'Although some of these transplanted Americans returned home after the Vietnam War, most of them put down roots in Canada, making up the largest, best-educated group this country had ever received.'

In 2009, the Harper government takes a much dimmer view of dozens of US soldiers who've come north after refusing to serve in the invasion of Iraq, which was never sanctioned by the UN. Some have already been deported to face military jail terms ranging from about six to 15 months.

An internal document released under the Access to Information Act summarizes the government's position: 'Unlike American draft dodgers who immigrated to Canada during the Vietnam conflict, the individuals coming to Canada now voluntarily joined the United States military and have subsequently deserted.'

Ken Marciniec, a spokesman for the War Resisters Support Campaign, says the Conservative stance is flawed and misleading. In fact, many Americans volunteered to serve in Vietnam only to recoil from a horrific mission and flee to Canada, he said. They, too, were allowed to settle here after 1969 following some initial legal wrangling... Marciniec says it was likely stripped because 'it directly contradicted the government's claim' that Iraq war resisters are voluntary deserters who can't be compared with Vietnam draft dodgers.