Canadian immigration and military deserters: New rule

Canadian immigration and military deserters

A bulletin published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada on July 22nd states that “persons who have deserted the military in their country of origin may be inadmissible to Canada”.

Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign, a support organization for Canadian war resisters, told the Postmedia News on Monday that, “They’re calling these cases high-profile and contentious. They’re saying (the soldiers) may be criminally inadmissible, creating this perception that they’re criminals,” she said, “it appears they are prejudging these individuals who should be treated like any other applicant.”

About 50 war resisters have applied for refugee status in Canada since 2004, but there are an estimated 200 or so in Canada currently. Of the 50 applications, 10 have been denied and the remaining 40 are still waiting, but the bulletin is believed to possibly eventually sway the decisions because it makes it appear as though the soldiers are committing a crime.

The timing of the bulletin is also somewhat suspicious, as in one month’s time a vote will be held on a private member’s bill that would allow war deserters to apply for permanent residence, although it is not known if it will exclusively apply to American soldiers.

While the bulletin may conjure up imagery of American soldiers coming to Canada, other non democratic countries (and some democratic ones) make it mandatory for all citizens to serve in their armies for a certain period of time and is known to draft citizens including women into combat unless they get married, are of a certain religion or flee.

Needless to say this is a very troubling development. Many military deserters from non-democratic countries are deserving of protection from Canada rather than being branded criminally inadmissible. This approach would certainly run counter to our democratic traditions of protecting people fleeing nations that do not respect human rights. I would hope that at lease there will be some desecration built into the law allowing for consideration of all the circumstances surrounding the desertion including the human right track record of the county in question.

Have a question about Canadian immigration and military deserters? Contact Niren and Associates immigration law firm.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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