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Trudeau opens the door to draft dodgers

No one expected the Vietnam War to play out as it did. With thousands of young men fighting to the death overseas, another group of American sons fled their homeland and journeyed north to Canada. As the battle raged on and the antiwar movement divided the United States, draft dodgers and deserters struggled to forge new lives for themselves. Seeking sanctuary and the opportunity to make a difference, they changed their adopted country unquestionably. (Note: Some clips contain explicit language.)

At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Prime Minister Trudeau fields questions on the subject of draft evaders. He characterizes them as good, orderly students who have aroused the sympathies of many Canadians. The dodgers have been coming across the Canadian border as landed immigrants. Others pretend they are visiting the country as tourists and do not follow the formal channels of immigration.

While Trudeau's policy has been viewed as relaxed, the Canadian government has waffled on the subject of draft dodger and deserter immigration. Policy is unclear as to whether border guards should ask specific questions about evasion of responsibility. Others charge that the border guards are unnecessarily harsh and act as informants for the FBI.
• Immigration and Citizenship Canada estimates that between 30,000 and 40,000 draft dodgers and deserters were admitted into Canada over the course of the conflict.
• Following a serious debate, Prime Minister Trudeau extended his open door policy to military deserters. It is estimated that roughly 1,000 deserters took sanctuary in Canada.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: March 25, 1969
Duration: 3:29

Last updated: January 24, 2012

Page consulted on February 13, 2014

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