Canada cools to resisters of U.S.'s Iraq War. What's changed since Vietnam?

Cliff Cornell, who lived in British Columbia for four years after abandoning his unit before it deployed to Iraq in January 2005, was sentenced to one year after he returned to the US voluntarily. Robin Long, who also fled to British Columbia in 2005 after abandoning before deployment, was deported in 2008, found guilty of desertion, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. Kimberly Rivera, who deserted while on leave and moved to Toronto to avoid a second tour in Iraq in 2007, was sentenced to 10 months after returning to the US voluntarily in 2013.

Key’s odds aren’t good: No Iraq war resister who has filed a claim to legally stay in Canada over the past 10 years has been successful thus far. Between September and December 2014 alone, eight applications from war resisters to stay in Canada as permanent residents, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds as well as spousal sponsorships, were denied, and four war resisters received removal orders. 

This cooler welcome is due in part to the fact that these resisters are deserters “who volunteer to serve in the armed forces of a democratic country and simply change their mind to desert,” as opposed to the Vietnam draft dodgers, who never chose to be involved with the military, immigration minister Jason Kenney explained in 2009. “And that’s fine, that’s the decision [the deserters] have made, but they are not refugees.”