Canada’s role continues as a refuge for Americans unhappy, or fearful, enough about their government to become expatriates. In the Nanaimo newspaper this week is the story of 28-year old Clifford Cornell, originally from Mountain Home, Arkansas. Mr. Cornell has lived the past three years on Gabriola Island, a large, autonomous island 20 minutes by ferry from Nanaimo. He’s been working for two years as a clerk at the Village Food Market on Gabriola. With few prospects after graduating from high school in 2002, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Mr. Cornell says he was paid a “$4,000 or $6,000” signing bonus and promised by the recruiter he’d not have to go to war. Not sure what Mr. Cornell thought was the primary purpose of the Army, but he nevertheless accepted what he says was the recruiter’s promise. Cornell fled the U.S. rather than go to war; there’s a U.S. Federal warrant out for his arrest. Though he’s lived in Canada for four years, he now faces a deportation order and must leave the country by December 24th. Sixty-four percent of Canadians say they want U.S. war resisters to be allowed to stay in Canada, on the grounds that the Iraq invasion is unjust, illegal, or immoral. I believe the Canadian government declined to deport Americans resisting the Viet Nam war on similar grounds, but the present government is not so inclined, though seems unenthusiastic. While five American war resisters have been deported, several hundred are estimated to remain in Canada.
Laurie got an email reply from a guy to whom she’d been referred with this in the subject line: “Welcome to Nanaimo, a nuclear-free zone.” The gentleman describes himself thusly:
“I have lived in Canada since 1970, when I left Seattle for Toronto to study political theory at the U of Toronto, and to escape the moral burden of the genocidal war against the Vietnamese and Cambodian people. That was after receiving my "Honorable" Discharge from the US Marine Corps. Since moving to Canada I have tried to be a true internationalist and deny that I am "American" or "Canadian." But at age 61, after living in my chosen country for 38 years, I do think of myself as canadian. But I'm still a US citizen, and I went to Seattle on Election Day to vote for Obambi [sic?] and celebrate. But I didn't stay and I have no intention of moving back” (“good,” I’d guess most Americans would answer :-) ).
And Laurie has met an American couple, he a Navy veteran, who moved here from Oregon a couple of years ago, I gather because of moral outrage at goings on in the U.S. We’ll be getting their full story over Christmas dinner at their home.