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Bars Entry to US Peacemakers: Let’s
Pressure Canadian Government to Change its Policies
October 4, 2007: Ann Wright,
retired U.S. army colonel and former diplomat who
quit in opposition to the Iraq war, and Medea
Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK
and founding director of Global Exchange, tested
Canada's policy towards US peace activists on Thursday.
They were on their way to Toronto at the invitation
of the Toronto
Stop the War Coalition but were denied entry
into Canada due to previous arrests for demonstrating
against the Iraq War outside the White House and
in the Capitol. Their names have been added to FBI's
National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database
that apparently dictates Canadian border policy.
The border agents at the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara
Falls who barred Medea and Ann said the mere fact
that they were listed on the NCIC was sufficient
to bar them from entry.
“This is outrageous. I'm appealing to Canadians
not to treat peaceful activists like common criminals.
I travel all over the world on a regular basis
and Canada is the first country to use the NCIC
to keep out people like us,” said Medea.
Her sentiments were echoed by NDP MP Olivia Chow,
who represents the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina.
She said it was “absurd” to bar entry
to anti-war activists. “These are not terrorists;
why do we have to protect Canadians from them?
We should not be allowing the FBI or Mr. Bush
to dictate our entry policy.”
"I am alarmed to learn that Canadian border
police are enforcing rules that have been determined
by the FBI and other U.S.-based agencies,"
Chow wrote to Stephen Brereton, Canada's consul
general in Buffalo, N.Y. "In Canada, peaceful
protest is not a criminal activity, despite how
some U.S. agencies may regard it."
Both Ann and Medea have previously visited Canada
for anti-war meetings, sometimes at the invitation
of Canadian activist groups or political parties.
As recently as August, Medea had been admitted
into Canada without problem.
Ann, meantime, was allowed into Canada on a three-day
temporary visa in August to protests talks between
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President George
W. Bush on the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
"First, the FBI should not have put us on
that list," Ann told a news conference Thursday
outside the Canadian Embassy. "And secondly,
the Canadian government should not be doing the
dirty political intimidation work for the Bush
administration by using that database."
"Canada is the first country, to our knowledge,
that is using this beefed-up database of the FBI
as its criteria for judging who enter, which is
why we consider this so outrageous and dangerous,"
said Medea. "If Canada starts to do this
and keeps out people like us, maybe other countries
will do it as well. We think it's important to
stop this right away."
Using Canada's criteria, even civil rights leader
Martin Luther King wouldn't have made it into
the country, she said. "We think this is
absurd. It's outrageous. It must be reversed."
"While we are fighting with our own FBI
to get these offences off the list, we hope that
friends in Canada will push the immigration service
to start using common sense and to allow us back
Recent Messages of Support:
of Invitation from Canadian Parliamentarians
Dear Sir / Madam,
The undersigned Members of Parliament confirm
that they have extended an invitation to Col.
Ann Wright (ret.) and Medea Benjamin to speak
on Parliament Hill on Thursday, October 25, 2007.
Ms. Benjamin and Col. Wright have traveled to
Canada on numerous occasions in the past, and
were denied entry to Canada at a Niagara Falls
border crossing on October 3, 2007.
Ms Benjamin is co-founder of Code Pink, a respected
American women's peace organization. Ret. Colonel
Wright provided 31 years of distinguished service
in the US Army, followed by a 14 year career in
the US diplomatic corps. Both are respected leaders
in the US peace movement.
We the undersigned Members of Parliament affirm
our belief that Ms. Benjamin and Colonel Wright
do not pose a security risk to Canada, or Canadians.
We welcome their presence in Canada, and look
forward to their participation to speak on issues
of peace, security and human rights on Parliament
Attached you will find an invitation for the
panel event to which they have been invited to
speak, entitled: 'Peacebuilders Without Borders:
Challenging the Post- 9/11 Canada-US Security
Olivia Chow, MP
NDP Citizenship & Immigration Critic
Penny Priddy, MP
NDP Public Safety Critic
Paul Dewar, MP
Foreign Affairs Critic
Alexa McDonough, MP
NDP Peace Advocate
Libby Davies, MP
NDP House Leader
Dawn Black, MP
NDP Defence Critic
Writes: An Open Letter to Mr. Paul Steckle,MP,
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