UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Rodney Watson, war resister. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Supporters renew bid to free war resister

By Pieta Woolley


American war resister Rodney Watson — who has lived in sanctuary at Vancouver’s First United Church for seven years — may soon walk free. Watson served a year in Iraq with the U.S. Army in 2005 and 2006. When he was recalled for another tour, he fled to Canada, citing disillusionment with the justification for the war and repulsion at the senseless killing. He started living at the church in 2009.

This past August, an unidentified Canadian offered to pay a bond to the Canadian Border Services Agency that would secure Watson’s release. This would free him to parent his Canadian-born son, now 6, while the government decides what to do about the roughly 25 war resisters claiming refugee status and living in legal limbo in Canada. At press time, the CBSA hadn’t made a decision about granting the bond.

This hasn’t been tried before; it was proposed by Watson’s legal counsel. It’s the same procedure that allows prisoners awaiting trial to leave jail.

Additional action seems imminent. Since she was elected in October 2015, Vancouver MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has lobbied the Liberal government on Watson’s behalf.

“I’m hopeful,” she says, referring to the Liberal promise to change the former Conservative government’s Operational Bulletin 202, which in 2010 made military deserters ineligible for refugee status. “This is one action they promised. If they’re true to their word they need to act. . . . I don’t understand why there’s such a delay.” The Supreme Court of Canada had given the federal government until last month to decide whether or not it plans to continue deportation for U.S. war resisters.

In the meantime, the Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, has intervened in several refugee cases, allowing individuals to stay in Canada. None were American war resisters.

Watson declined to be interviewed.



Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Ethics

Parliament House in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo: Pixabay

Sweden’s governing party pledges to abolish religious schools

by Al Donato

Should they be re-elected in September, the Swedish Social Democrats announced that their education policy would eliminate gender and religious segregation in schools.

Promotional Image

Observations

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: Our magazine's plastic problem

by Jocelyn Bell

"While I can easily defend the use of a polybag on financial grounds, it would be unconscionable to deliver a cover story about plastics . . . in plastic."

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Features

April 2018

What that recycling logo actually means

by Susan Nerberg

Contrary to popular belief, its presence doesn’t guarantee the product is reusable or recyclable.

Features

April 2018

Tea bags and other surprising places plastics lurk

by Susan Nerberg

Hidden plastics rarely get recycled and often can’t be reused. Here we make some of the invisibles visible.

Culture

April 2018

3 fascinating books shed light on the refugee crisis

by Lisa Van de Ven

Recent fiction about the refugee experience invites readers to broaden their emotional borders.

Profiles

October 2017

Fall from grace

by Justin Dallaire

Don Hume was a United Church minister nearing retirement. Then he tried crack cocaine.

Features

April 2018

10 easy ways to kick our nasty plastic habit

by Susan Nerberg

It's not as hard as you think.

Features

April 2018

What that recycling logo actually means

by Susan Nerberg

Contrary to popular belief, its presence doesn’t guarantee the product is reusable or recyclable.

Promotional Image