NDP MP Bill Siksay seconded Bill C-440, which would have given sanctuary to Iraq war resisters in Canada. I spoke to him after Question Period today about the defeat of the bill.
Q: You seconded this bill and it didn’t go through, so I wanted to get your thoughts and feelings.
A: I’m really disappointed that it didn’t go all the way through. I think it is a setback, that it was proposed and that it didn’t have support. I’m disappointed that it didn’t have the support among Liberals, frankly, to get it all the way through. I’m glad that New Democrats supported it unanimously, as we have all along when this issue’s come before the House. I still think it’s a very significant issue, and hopefully we’ll find other ways of pursuing it.
Q: Do you think the courts are the last available option for these people?
A: I think all along they’ve been pursuing every angle that they possibly could, and I know that they’re not going to go leave a stone unturned in their attempts to find sanctuary here in Canada, and they shouldn’t. They should take advantage of every possible route.
Q: What are you personally going to be doing next on this front?
A: I’m meeting with War Resisters in Vancouver on Friday, and hopefully with Rodney Watson who’s in sanctuary at First United Church and have a discussion about where we go from here, and check in with each other about what possibilities there are. By my support for them hasn’t waivered, and my party’s support for them is absolutely clear.
Q: I noticed in the House yesterday, some of the particular rhetoric that was used, calling them “deserters,” and calling the failure a “victory for the rule of law.” What does this rhetorical flourish say to you?
A: I had a very strong reaction to it. I felt they really ramped up the rhetoric on this issue in that question yesterday. I think it was inappropriate. I think what they’re doing is rubbing it in the faces of people of conscience who’ve come here for very strong personal reasons, because they opposed a war that most Canadians oppose, and I was frankly shocked that the Conservatives did that. It was completely unnecessary and inappropriate.