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Ottawa cracking down on US deserters

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has advised immigration officers that military deserters seeking permanent residence should be treated as "high profile, contentious and sensitive cases," and kicked upstairs for resolution.

In Operational Bulletin 202, issued on July 22, CIC advised immigration officers:

Some individuals who may have deserted the military or who may have committed an offence equivalent to desertion of the military in their country of origin have sought refuge in Canada. Desertion is an offence in Canada under the National Defence Act (NDA). The maximum punishment for desertion under section 88 of the NDA is life imprisonment, if the person committed the offence on active service or under orders for active service.

Consequently, persons who have deserted the military in their country of origin may be inadmissible to Canada under section 36(1)(b) or 36(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The current inventory of military deserter cases is comprised primarily of members of the United States armed forces who have claimed refugee protection in Canada. Desertion from the armed forces is described as an offence pursuant to section 85 of the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The directive advised immigration officers to contact their Regional Program Advisor when processing applications by such deserters. Such cases are to be handled "using the existing guidelines on processing high profile, contentious and sensitive cases (OP 1, section 15)."

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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