Opinion

Gov't can't keep ignoring motion concerning war objectors: Clarke; 0

Letter to the editor:

The House of Commons passed a motion to recognize conscientious objectors of the illegal war in Iraq and allow them and their families to apply for permanent resident status in Canada. It also called for an end to deportation proceedings against them.

The Stephen Harper government has chosen to ignore the motion, and I would ask my Conservative opponent (Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton) and his colleagues to reconsider this unprincipled position.

Their refusal to act is egregious in view of the very strong moral claim of these conscientious objectors. The Iraq-U. S. war is not sanctioned by the United Nations. Many people who agreed to one tour of duty are being sent back to Iraq without choice. Some signed up for the National Guard to serve domestically only to be sent to Iraq against their will. Others went willingly to Iraq in the belief they were participating in a noble cause, only to discover that the rhetoric of their government is at odds with reality When speaking to another motion passed by the House of Commons in 2005, Harper said, "The prime minister has the moral responsibility to respect the will of the House..." I only ask that the prime minister heed his own words today and respect the will of the House of the House of Commons on this very important motion pertaining to basic human rights.

Five years ago, the Liberal government made the principled decision not to participate in the War in Iraq. Harper was very critical of that decision and made it clear that, if he were prime minister, Canada would have gone to war. Harper got it wrong then, but he can make the right decision now and respect conscientious objectors and their families for making their own, very difficult, principled decisions.

In his very last speech in the House of Commons, our former MP, Paul DeVillers, said there should be no distinction between a person avoiding the draft and the one who refuses to join an unauthorized war. He called for treatment of U. S. war resisters today like that accorded to resisters of the Vietnam War. Paul was right, as are the majority of our elected parliamentarians who supported the recent motion to recognize conscientious objectors of the illegal war in Iraq.

The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that conscientious objectors be given protection by signatory states. It is time the government did what is right and lived up to this important agreement. It is time the government respected the will of Canadians as expressed by the majority of members in the House of Commons. And it is time the Simcoe North MP and his Conservative colleagues adopted a position on conscientious objectors that is more in line with Canadian values and less beholden to the discredited Bush administration.

Steve Clarke, Federal Liberal candidate for Simcoe North


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