Canadian authorities appear to be speeding up efforts to deport U.S. army
deserters, despite a key Federal Court decision just last Friday in favour of
so-called "war resisters".
Deserter Robin Long, his supporters and his lawyers were stunned yesterday to
learn that Mr. Long, currently being held in a Nelson jail, was in danger of
being sent back to the United States as early as today.
"His removal is imminent ... probably within a day or two," Canada Border
Services Agency lawyer Rick Lengert told a hastily arranged Immigration and
Refugee Board hearing.
There had been no warning to Mr. Long that he was in danger of being sent
back to the United States so quickly, and it came as a particular shock to his
lawyer, Shepherd Moss, in light of last week's court decision upholding deserter
Joshua Key's appeal of his failed refugee application.
Mr. Moss served notice that he would seek an emergency, after-hours sitting
of the Federal Court to ask for an immediate stay of his client's deportation.
Late yesterday, the border agency agreed to make no move to deport Mr. Long
until Monday, giving his lawyer a bit more time.
But Mr. Long's supporters were nonetheless outraged by the suddenness of his
arrest and near deportation.
The 25-year-old failed refugee claimant was arrested in Nelson on a
deportation warrant on Friday, the same day as Mr. Key's victory in the courts.
No one on Mr. Long's side was informed until just before the Immigration and
Refugee Board hearing began yesterday afternoon that approval for his
deportation had been granted by immigration officials two months ago.
"Basically, they're trying to kidnap war resisters and get them into the
hands of George Bush," steamed Bob Ages of the Vancouver War Resisters Support
Campaign. "This is the closest thing to rendition we've had in this country
since Maher Arar. It's outrageous. What are these enforcement people up to?"
If Mr. Long is deported, he will be the first of an estimated 200 deserters
who have sought refuge in Canada to be returned to the United States, marking an
official end to the country's policy of welcoming American draft dodgers and
deserters that began during the Vietnam War.
He remains in jail in the idyllic Interior city, home to many young men who
have fled U.S. military service because of the war in Iraq.
Mr. Ages said Immigration Minister Diane Finley should be pressed about the
matter, given Friday's pro-resister court decision and last month's vote in
Parliament favouring a motion to grant asylum to American deserters.
The House of Commons vote was not binding on the government.
Mr. Long left the army after two years service and arrived in Canada in 2005.
He has said he deserted because he did not want to participate in "an illegal
war of aggression in Iraq. Morally, I felt I couldn't do that."
His claim for refugee status was rejected.
He was arrested for violating terms of his release from previous custody by
failing to notify the border agency of his latest address in Nelson.
The immigration hearing was called to decide whether he should remain in
custody, until he is returned to the U.S.
Testifying by telephone from his Nelson jail cell, Mr. Long told the hearing
that that he had been "couch surfing" at various local residences, and didn't
realize the seriousness of having to report every time he changed locations.
But adjudicator Leeanne King ordered him to remain in jail. "There is no stay
in place. You are removable," she told Mr. Long over the phone. "The department
is going to remove you tomorrow, or as soon as possible ... so obviously now
your physical whereabouts are even more crucial."
Mr. Long's actions resulted in the forfeit of a $5,000 bond posted by Mr.
Ages, guaranteeing that he would abide by the conditions imposed for his
But Mr. Ages said he was more concerned about what will happen to the young
deserter, who said he joined the army shortly after 9/11 in a burst of
"We're asking authorities to back off and not drag resisters across the border in handcuffs. ... I also think he's suffering cruel and unusual punishment in the Nelson jail. The only food he gets are greasy cheeseburgers. I consider that unconstitutional."
Commentary - Unfortunately, the Globe and Mail decided to end comments on this article rather early,
as the Globe and Mail tend to do to any article that might reflect upon Stephen Harper.
The Harper government does not like the recent decision so , Mr. Stephen Harper has very obviously given
his republican instructions to the IRB and his instructions are very obviously, to deport the SOB's before
any further court decision.
This confirms that Canada is a corrupt country absent the rule of law.
Shame Harper Shame.