My home and native land has a long, proud history as a place of refuge for the persecuted, the downtrodden, and the people of conscience. When black Americans fled slavery on the Underground Railroad, Canada was the end station. They followed the North Star to get here, literally. A hundred or so years later, the Vietnam War drove tens of thousands of men to flee the United States yet again–this time from the non-racial slavery that was the military draft. Many of these war resisters became permanent citizens.
Today, our country’s reputation as a refuge is under attack. While the people of Canada are as open and welcoming to war resisters as ever, our government is not. There is craven cowardice in Ottawa as politicians seek to tie their fortunes to Dubya’s foul star. Why they are doing so, heaven knows; I suspect greed and corporate graft. This is a corporate war, not a war of liberation or against terror, that is being fought over Iraq. Yet too many of our members of Parliament are too cowardly, too deluded, or just too stupid to speak out. They underestimate the true nature of the Canadian people, who are staunchly opposed to this war–and who welcome the soldiers who have said no to it as well.