Commons says "Let US war resisters stay"

The Canadian Parliament has passed a motion which, if implemented, would allow US Iraq war resisters to stay in Canada

The New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Liberals all voted in favor of a recommendation that conscientious objectors in the US military be allowed to apply for permanent resident status in Canada, while the ruling Conservatives voted against.

Many objectors to the war in Iraq and to other current military campaigns have come to Canada illegally, frequently after exhausting legal attempts to leave the US armed forces. Most face possible imprisonment for desertion or other legal penalties.

The motion calls for the government to "immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members ... to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada, and ... the government should cease any removal or deportation actions ... against such individuals."

The motion is unlikely to become law, however, thanks to the peculiar dynamics of Canada's government, where the minority Conservatives routinely ignore unfavorable parliamentary votes.

Within days of the parliamentary vote, there was a positive development in one objector's legal struggle to stay in Canada. Corey Glass, who was due to be deported on June 12, succeeded in getting an extension until July 10, during which his appeal will continue. If his appeal fails and he is deported, he will be the first Iraq war resister to be forcibly removed from Canada.

21st century prison hulks

The United States is operating "floating prisons" to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers quoted in the Guardian on 2 June.

Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as "floating prisons" since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

The Reprieve study includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate's story of detention on an amphibious assault ship.

"One of my fellow prisoners in Guantanamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo. ... He was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship.

"The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo."

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: "They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

"By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been `through the system' since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them."

The Guardian

Radarsat sale blocked

Vancouver-based aerospace company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) will not be sold to the US-owned Alliant Techsystems Inc., federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice has ruled. In a letter to Alliant, the minister asserted he was "not satisfied" the sale will be a net benefit for Canada.

MDA's main technology is the Radarsat-II observation satellite (see Peace, April-June 2008).

The development of Radarsat-II was 75% funded by public money through the Canadian Space Agency, MDA also took over the publicly-owned Radarsat I program in exchange for a data-sharing agreement with the federal agency.

The government's blocking of the deal is "extraordinary," according to CBC News.

"In the 23-year history of the Investment Canada Act, the federal government has never blocked a foreign takeover because of a failure of the `net benefit' test."

CBC News

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2008

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2008, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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