Millions of Canadians still draw a heightened sense of national self-esteem from their view of this country as a nation of peacekeepers.
Even our increasingly unpopular participation as American surrogates in the war in Afghanistan is sold to a restive public as "peacekeeping" and "nation building."
So how does this country dare to reject the ultimate peacekeepers, soldiers who will not fight, soldiers who lay down their arms? If legions of armies were filled with them, would a weapon ever again be fired in anger?
The Supreme Court of Canada has recently refused to hear refugee appeals from two brave American warriors, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, two of dozens of gutsy soldiers who have headed here rather than follow orders to attack Iraq.
The last time the U.S. waged an illegal, unpopular and undeclared war, this country welcomed the peace commandos. In the 60s and 70s, displaced Yanks with time on their hands shared stories of Brooklyn and Alabama with Canadian teenagers, occasionally scoring the underagers booze or showing them a new way to roll joints.
They also shared stories of fighting for civil rights and the heartbreak of turning your back on your family and your homeland after your country orders you to kill.
Thousands of Yank turn-the-other-cheekers enriched the Canadian scene by bringing their heightened morality and love of fellow men and women north. CBC Radio morning man Andy Barry is just one of the two-way success stories that saw an American on the run get a fresh start and this country gain an enthusiastic and talented new citizen.
We've already reached the "Nam film" stage of the indefensible imperialist invasion that masquerades as a war on terrorism when filmmakers like Brian De Palma direct inevitable Hollywood testaments to mad plans in Iraq gone horribly wrong.
His Redacted, a fictionalized, fact-based account of the rape of a teenage Iraqi girl and the murder of her family at the hands of U.S. soldiers, tells just the kind of story that Hinzman, Hughey and the others want not to be part of.
Many of the current "deserters" joined the U.S. Army shortly after 9/11, believing they would somehow be protecting their nation from further "terrorist attacks." Their commanders didn't dwell on the fact that Saudis, not the Iraqis whose country they were invading, had actually struck at the U.S.
Other "deserters" are simply reservists who joined for weekend duty, exercise and a cheap education, never anticipating serving in a shooting war. These same duped defenders have found themselves automatically "re-upped" with no choice as to whether they would serve again in a war that makes less and less sense.
That Stephen Harper's Canada is working so hard not to welcome these brave soldiers who want to march under the white flag is another example of how his renegade right is leading this country so far from its small-L liberal roots.
With the U.S. in steep self-induced decline and its influence on the world diminishing, why has Harper hitched his wagon to this failing regime?
Time for Canada to retake its place as a conscience for the West and welcome folks fundamentally averse to killing and war.
Why wouldn't a country want to make space within its borders for people dedicated to peace?