Sentimentalism is best left in the bedroom, the kitchen or SUV and has no place in war, it seems. For all those who sat through the Refugee Board adjudication for war resister Jeremy Hinzman, last week's decision refusing his claim was a savage blow.
Adjudicator Brian Goodman wrote, "Mr. Hinzman has failed to establish that if deployed to Iraq he would have engaged, been associated with or been complicit in military action condemned by the international community."
There were some strands of kind feeling for the AWOL infantryman in the ruling, but not enough. "Mr. Hinzman is an intelligent, thoughtful young man, with an inquisitive mind and a desire to try different life experiences to determine whether he is able to meet the challenges that they present, whether they are personally satisfying [or] accord with his moral code," Goodman observed."
Chin up. That's the response to this ruling from the War Resisters Support Campaign. For one thing, there's the upcoming appeal in a federal court. This could take several years, during which time one could hopefully contemplate a south-of-the-border regime change.
Says Hinzman's lawyer Jeffry House, "We need the law clarified on the excluded evidence," by which he means arguments on the legality of the Iraq war that House expected to be allowed under refugee law.
Then there's the upcoming hearing of fellow resister Brandon Hughey, and a petition campaign (see www.petitiononline.com/resister/petition. html) backed by members of the NDP parliamentary caucus, which in this minority government situation aims to pressure the feds to provide sanctuary to U.S. war objectors.
About 20,000 people have signed it so far. NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) is "happy to present this petition in the House of Commons. They are making an important point.
"The situation is different between Vietnam and now," he says. "Then, we were dealing with a compulsory draft. I would hope, though, that Canada would take an active stance against militarism. Canada should follow PM Pierre Trudeau's stand. The war resisters should be made welcome here."
Resister supporters are too busy scrounging to meet the deserters' needs to lament the recent judgment. There's a desperate need for children's bedding, toys, games and a database of people who will put deserters up until they get their bearings.
"We knew it was going to be a longer journey than this," says Support Campaign spokesperson Carolyn Egan of the Immigration and Refugee Board decision. With time on its side, the group is putting an infrastructure in place to cope with what it predicts will be a growing demand.
Egan says her group is getting about one inquiry a day from enlisted personnel seeking info about Canada. There are an estimated 100 resisters in Canada now, and she figures approximately 5,000 AWOL soldiers are living underground in the U.S.
By contrast, she says, the fellows who made a run for the border are living openly, getting on with their lives and putting down roots in their communities. Both Hinzman and Hughey are working full-time. Josh Key's two school-age children started classes this week. Until his work permit arrives, Darrell Anderson is on the road giving speeches on everyone's behalf. Known for his outgoing nature, he's already made lots of Canadian friends.
"We're developing a social-service-like function," says supporter Lee Zaslofsky, who devotes half of every day to the various isses faced by resisters. How many thousands will have to chant "War resisters welcome here" before the ghost of Trudeau visits PM Paul Martin? Resister supporters know the ultimate decision about the deserters' fate rests with the government, and they are anticipating a slow but steady increase in citizen pressure.
"Jeremy is going to be here a long time," say Zaslofsky. "I don't think these guys are going back unless they want to."