US Soldiers Opposed to War Now Find Canada Less Hospitable

When Army Sgt. Patrick Hart decided a decade ago that he would not serve in the war in Iraq, he expected to follow the same path as thousands of American war resisters during the Vietnam era and take refuge across the border.

But after five years of wrangling with the Canadian immigration system, he came back to the U.S. — and ended up in a military prison.

The country that once welcomed war resisters has developed a much different reputation during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Supporters say no U.S. soldier who has sought legal residence in Canada, either as a refugee or on humanitarian grounds, has been successful.

  • Drunk_by_Noon

    Thank you for Canada the return of our stray trash.
    We will make sure they are disposed of properly.
    Besides, our military prisons aren’t so bad.

    • I get a kick out of the histrionics the left has engaged in up here.

    • Ron MacDonald

      I once delivered a sailor to Canada’s military prison in Edmonton, it’s not a fun place.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        Maybe your military prisons in Canada are less fun than ours?

        • Doug Kursk

          Absolutely correct DBN…any military prison based on the British model is not a vacation, far from it.

  • Justin St.Denis

    So many Americans still think of Canada as John&YokoLand. Thanks PET.

    • mauser 98

      and CBC , TorStar

  • Brett_McS

    Should have gone to Mexico!

    • Alain

      I doubt Mexico would have accepted them, because Mexico does not welcome foreigners wanting to stay there unlike the US and Canada to a lesser extent.

      • Brett_McS

        My knowledge of the issue is based on Shawshank Redemption.

        • Clausewitz

          Hollywood fantasy. Reality is not their strong suit.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      Then gotten a spray tan and then gotten picked up by the authorities after crossing back.
      How hard would it be to reinvent yourself?

  • simus1

    The whole article is the usual left wing hippie recycled tripe from decades past. The big hook for the Vietnam era was that those “poor deserters were draftees” being sent to a suddenly unpopular foreign war. Today’s American version volunteered for military careers and signed on the dotted line. Left unmentioned of course, is that thousands of Canadians volunteered to join various branches of the US Military during those years and served in Vietnam.

    • Very true, a trip to Buffalo and a fake address was all you needed.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        We had more Canadian volunteers fighting with us in Vietnam than there were American draft-dodgers absconding to Canada.

        At ANY point in time, any one of those “Canadians”, while in Vietnam, could have have said: “I’m a Canadian, send me home” and we would have, and to the best of my knowledge not one did.
        Go Canadians!

        As for that Army Sgt who tried to claim a coward’s asylum in Canada, he needs to pull the full 20-year stretch in Fort Levenworth.
        He was an N.C.O.
        He wasn’t just some dope that enlisted after breaking up with his girlfriend, he had been in the Army long enough, and promoted several times, to know better.

        • mauser 98
          • Drunk_by_Noon

            Technically and actually, that was ROTC and not U.S. Army.
            ROTC is pretend army for college kids thinking of enlisting as it is supposed to both prepare them for Army life prior to their enlistment.

          • mauser 98

            ok… darn close

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            Well, maybe closer than the Rotary Club, but none of them are inducted or sworn, so I don’t know how close that is.

        • Doug Kursk

          Canadians: we like a good scrap…brothers, friends, the enemy, it doesn’t matter much!!

          • Clausewitz

            Just start a friendly family hockey game to see what Doug means.

        • Everyone Else

          “At ANY point in time, any one of those “Canadians”, while in Vietnam, could have have said: “I’m a Canadian, send me home” and we would have”

          Sorry but not true. Desertion to Canada was an option but you couldn’t get out by asking.

          Other options were repeated AWOL or multiple misbehaviors. Any American could have done the same but they worried more about being saddled with an other-than-honorable discharge.

          Your other comment is funny and true, about “some dope that enlisted after breaking up with his girlfriend”.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            The Canadians sure could have. The Americans, no way.
            It’s an administrative separation much similar to if they were to find out that you had enlisted while underage.
            They just send you home.

          • Everyone Else

            I was a Courts & Boards clerk in 1967 and dealt with this issue in detail. Albeit this was at Fort Carson so maybe things were different if you were elsewhere or else time.

      • Everyone Else

        no fake address needed
        and manchester NH was sign-up locale for montrealers

    • Alain

      Exactly which makes it no comparison whatsoever. These people asked to join knowing full well what was entailed and then signed a binding contract that they now want to ignore. Also among those Americans who came in the 60s from my understanding a good percentage had not yet been drafted. They knew it was only a matter of time and left before it happened. That said Canada did not get a good deal based on those I later encountered. To the last one of them, they were about as far left as one can be, so they were no asset.

      You are also correct about Canadians joining and fighting in Vietnam. I had a couple of friends, now passed on, who did exactly that and remained proud of their service.

      • V10_Rob

        More I think about it, the less cut and dried it seems.

        As many have pointed out, they weren’t drafted, they volunteered. They knew deployment to a war zone was a distinct possibility. I’ve got no argument against that part.

        However, they signed with the implied promise that if they were sent into harms away, it would be in defense of their country (and not squandered to enhance the President and the Secretary of State’s prestige). This is where it can get subjective.

        Foremost in my mind was last year when the US hawks (Dems and Reps) were pushing to get involved in Syria. None of the sides are American allies. Lives and treasure were going to be poured into the fire for a nebulous geopolitical advantage. The rebels include Al Qaeda, and the military was going to be ordered to fight and bleed and die FOR terrorist that had been clearly established as such for over a decade. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

        Intervening in Vietnam (Domino Theory) at least made plausible sense at the time. Can’t even say that much about Syria; at best it seems to be about doing Russia a bad turn. Under those circumstances, I’ve a hard time automatically writing off a soldier-turned-objector as a simple case of cowardice.

    • Sharkibark

      I totally agree. When there was a draft – it was a completely different matter. With a totally volunteer military – if an enlisted person goes awol it’s a matter of breach of contract. I don’t think they should be charged criminally (“Well that depends, Mr. Bergdahl….”) but dismissed dishonourably without pay or pension? Hell-yup.

      • dukestreet

        I dunno. Technically, they are at war so it’s desertion. At least they are not shot anymore.

      • UCSPanther

        In another time, Bergdahl would have been up against a bullet riddled wall, bound, blindfolded and smoking a cigarette…

        • Smoking! The Deuce you say!

          The firing squad would sue.

  • john s

    Whether is draft dodgers or these losers, we don’t want/need them. The US is your country. You reap the benefits of living there. If you join the army you made an agreement which you must honour. If you are drafted, then you go or you face the penalty (jail). Only a coward dodges the draft, period.

  • Hard Little Machine

    I never cease to be amazed that each and every one of these men and women volunteered to join the armed forces while there were various wars going on and how (clutches pearls!) they suddenly don’t want to fight or even fulfill any non combat role. There has not been a draft since, when? 1975? For 40 years 100% of the armed forces have been volunteers.