A very high-profile soldier from the United States who was initially denied permanent residence in Canada has won his appeal against the decision, forcing officials to reconsider.
Jeremy Hinzman, the first United States Iraq War resister to seek refugee status in Canada, was told by the Federal Court of Appeal that the Canadian immigration official did not properly take his situation into consideration and acted in a “significantly flawed” and “unreasonable” manner.
Officials have been instructed to look at Hinzman’s application again, which requests being allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Hinzman’s situation is not unique, with hundreds of other American soldiers doing the same. The National Post also published a story a few days ago about another soldier, a patriotic, American citizen who had completed his term in the war who deserted because of his strong feelings that the war was illegal. In the United States, imprisonment often awaits war deserters.
These people are treated like any other refugees in Canada and have the option to request a hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board. A new Bill created by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy last year would allow objectors to war to seek refugee status in Canada legally, although it has not been determined if this would only apply to Americans or not. Critics worry that the bill would make Canada a haven for deserters of all kinds, from those with criminal backgrounds and from any country.
Meanwhile, soldiers being stop-lossed (extending a military person’s term of service against their will or involuntarily) will also be considered on a case-by-case basis like any other refugee appeal.
The soldier in the National Post story, Phil McDowell, wants the public to know that the concern with many of these soldiers is not all wars, but the war in Iraq. He is now one of 60,000 refugees in Canada waiting to appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board.
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