During the Vietnam War, Canada gave refuge to as many as 90,000 draft dodgers and thousands of deserters from the United States, treating them as immigrants and refusing extradition requests from the US government. When the Iraq War began, scores of deserters traveled across the border, expecting a similar reception. Yesterday, the Canadian government gave them a rude awakening:

Canada is set to deport in June the first of possibly hundreds of American soldiers who sought asylum to avoid military duty in Iraq, a group backing the US deserters said Wednesday.

Corey Glass, 25, came to Canada in August 2006 after serving in Iraq as a military intelligence sergeant.

Authorities told him on Wednesday that his application to stay in Canada was rejected and he would be deported in early June, a spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign told AFP.

According to the group, several hundred Iraq War resisters are currently in Canada, many of them living underground. Glass would be the first of them to be deported, it said.

“This goes against Canada’s tradition of welcoming Americans who disagree with policies like slavery and the Vietnam War,” said Lee Zaslofsky, a War Resisters Support Campaign coordinator.

As far as I recall, slaves didn’t enlist. Corey Glass didn’t just disagree with American policy, he broke the law in abandoning his voluntary military service. They must have figured that out in Ottawa, too, in reaching the decision to halt the deserter trade in Canada.

Deserters were much more controversial in Canada than draft dodgers, even during Vietnam. Canada didn’t recognize draft dodging as a civil crime, but desertion was another matter. The Canadian military bitterly opposed Canada’s decision to passively ignore deserters who crossed the border during the Vietnam War, and they certainly don’t want to see Canada become a haven for those who ran out after volunteering for service. The government agrees and will end the free ride for deserters forthwith.

When Glass returns, he can expect a court-martial and a five-year stay in a military prison, and he deserves it. If he didn’t like war, he shouldn’t have volunteered for the military. Maybe he can spend that time learning the difference between slavery and voluntary actions. (via QandO)