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Canada plans to deport deserter

Former Army Sgt. Patrick Hart has learned that the Canadian government plans to deport him to the United States on Oct. 30.

The decision comes more than two years since Hart deserted the Army in opposition to the Iraq War. It was announced by Canada Border Services, which denied Hart's requests through the federal government's Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Office in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Hart, who grew up in Riverside, went to Toronto -- a haven for U.S. war resisters during the Vietnam War -- and was joined by his wife, Jill, and son, Rian, 6. Hart's attorney, Alyssa Manning, is preparing an appeal of the decision to Canada's Federal Court.

Hart, 34, was a soldier for nine years and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom during his three enlistments before concluding the U.S. presence in Iraq was morally unjustifiable. He went to Toronto in August 2005, before he was to ship out on a second deployment to the Middle East.

While Hart remains hopeful the decision will be reversed, he said he stands ready to accept whatever punishment comes from his court-martial.

"It would have been much easier to say, the hell with it and deploy to Iraq and just go through with it," he said. "For anyone thinking I've taken the easy route, it's not easy by any stretch of the imagination. But it is what it is, and I'll stand by what I've done."

The decision in Hart's case was not surprising, since fellow war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Corey Glass were also ordered to leave Canada earlier this year. However, the Federal Court stayed their removal orders pending decisions on whether the court will hear their appeals.

Manning, who also represents Hinzman, said she believes Hart's request for a stay also has a good chance of succeeding.

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has gotten tough on war resisters despite a June 3 vote in the House of Commons in which all three opposition parties endorsed letting U.S. war resisters stay in Canada.

"The Harper government has refused to implement that motion," Manning said.


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