Friday, July 4, 2008

War Resister's case sent back to Immigration and Refugee Board by Federal Court

It had just been reported that a Federal Court has ruled that the Immigration and Refugee Board must rehear the case of Joshua Key, a war resister.

Key had spent eight months in Iraq and witnessed “savage acts committed against civilians” by US soldiers. He fled to Canada after deciding not to return while home on leave.

This is good news for the hundreds of American war resisters who are in Canada either in hiding, waiting to hear about their own refugee case, or facing deportation. Corey Glass, a resister who could face redeployment to Iraq if he were to return to the United States, faces deportation on July 10. This is despite Parliament voting in favour of letting Glass and other resisters to stay.

According to an Angus Reid poll conducted online, out of 1001 Canadians asked, 64 percent do not want Glass to be deported.

The War Resister campaign has had a lot of support from students’ unions across Canada. For students’ unions, links are often made between aggressive recruitment on campuses in the US to the high cost of post-secondary education. In both Canada and the US, it doesn’t take too long to hear a recruiter use the notion of free tuition to lure low- or middle-income students towards a “career” in the armed forces.

Isn’t it time for the Conservatives to listen to the will of the people they’re supposed to represent? If parliament has already voted in favour of letting Glass and other resisters to stay, the Conservative government has a responsibility to listen to the majority.

Of course, that’s only if they actually believe in democracy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Morgentaler gets Order of Canada under Conservative rule

Amid the backlash from Canada’s conservative media condemning organizations like the York Federation of Students and the Canadian Federation of Students for sticking to their pro-choice roots, Henry Morgentaler has just been granted the Order of Canada. Dr. Morgentaler has been a dedicated pro-choice and womens’ rights advocate.

Unsurprisingly, the Harper government is trying to distance itself from the decision.

This move comes at an interesting time. In addition to the decisions by some
student organizations not to fund anti-choice campaigns being misrepresented as “banning” pro-life groups from campus—a the misrepresentation that the conservative media and and anti-choice groups are willfully promoting—this decision comes as Conservative MP Ken Epp’s private members’ bill "Unborn Victims of Crime”, is still before the House. But Ken Epp's bill is only the latest attack against women’s rights by Harper’s Conservatives. In December, 2006 for example, they drastically cut the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and the Court Challenges Program.

To many Canadians, Morgentaler’s recognition for his years of dedication to women’s reproductive rights is long overdue. But the fact that this appointment was made while Harper’s government is standing, is a strong political indication that Canadians will not easily flip-flop on their long-standing preference for progressive abortion laws.

The Ryerson Free Press congratulates Dr. Henry Morgentaler and the selection committee who chose him for this award. Those who stand committed to ensuring that women’s reproductive rights are respected in
Canada should likewise publicly celebrate this timely award.