Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My school project

As I have alluded earlier, I don't believe we Canadians tell our own stories enough.

Or, when we do tell them they're assumed to be fiction?

One of the stories we don't tell is about Canadian's aiding young American men who were avoiding the draft and deserters during the Vietnam War.

As part of my research for my school project I've been reading The Manual for Draft Age Immigrants to Canada.

The first edition was written in 1968 by Mark Satin, at the time he was part of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme.

The Toronto Anti-Draft Programme initially helped Americans immigrate to Canada to avoid being drafted into the military and sent to Vietnam; later they would help American servicemen desert.

An estimated 50 to 90,000 Americans came to Canada from 1965 to 1973.

The late Prime Minister Trudeau said: "Those who make the conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism."

Yeah, he was actually Prime Minister when he said that.

Can you imagine Brian Mulroney or his son Stephen Harper saying that?

Questioned at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in 1969 about Canada's position on American draft dodgers, Trudeau explained, "the status of being a draft dodger doesn't enter at all into our immigration policy."

Let's see, on March 28, 2003, shortly after the illegal invasion of Iraq, Harper, then leader of Canadian Alliance, and Stockwell Day, then the shadow foreign minister, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled "Canada Stands With You".

In the letter, Harper and Day express their shame that "the Canadian government has not stood beside its key British and American allies in their time of need".

And then, in the time honoured fashion of American policy, they neatly close the article by subtly tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks.

(Sigh) I miss Trudeau.
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