Hinzman Show a Made-in-Canada Farce

By:  Rachel Marsden

As Canada happily continues to host the endless saga of U.S. army deserter Jeremy Hinzman, Torontonians turned out en masse outside the Much Music studios earlier this month to protest an appearance by lip-synching pop tart, Ashlee Simpson, waving signs reading "freeloader" and "Canada does NOT welcome Ashlee Simpson." Come on, people -- can we get our priorities straight? Wrong American!

Hinzman admittedly volunteered to serve in the U.S. military because shooting stuff looked cool in war movies, but then he conveniently stumbled upon both Buddha and the anti-war Quakers. When the army refused to let the trained paratrooper pick and choose his missions -- switching to the kitchen and earning his free college education playing Martha Stewart when he felt like it -- he took off to Canada.

Hinzman's bid to become a refugee derailed earlier this year when the Immigration and Refugee Board refused to buy his claim that if he were to return to the U.S. to face prosecution, it would amount to persecution. That's like robbing a bank in Canada and then running to America, arguing you're an "economic refugee."

U.S. army deserter Charles Jenkins, who fled to North Korea 40 years ago, was court-martialed last year and jailed for 30 days. It would be a small price to pay for Hinzman's military dine-and-dash, given that in World War II, deserters faced a firing squad comprised of their ex-army buddies.

You want real persecution? Talk to Iraqi military deserter, Adnan Yousef, who told the Sydney Morning Herald that he spent three months getting tortured with "electric shocks and blows from machetes" by Saddam Hussein's regime -- the same thugs whose removal Hinzman didn't apparently deem worthy of his effort.

The hearing should've been Hinzman's last stop on the train out of Martyrville. Instead, Judge Sean Harrington -- a Liberal appointee from Jean Chretien's final days in office -- just green-lit a judicial review in Federal Court, administering mouth-to-mouth to this farce when he could've put it out of its misery.

Now, thanks to Harrington, Hinzman gets to argue the legality of the Iraq War in his bid to get a new hearing -- an argument the Refugee Board refused to consider because it's about as relevant to the whole matter as the colour of George Bush's skivvies.

Canada has never taken the silly position that the Iraq War was "illegal" -- and a review of its merits has no place in our courts. The UN passed several resolutions for use of force against Saddam. Finally, the U.S. and U.K. -- the only two permanent UN Security Council members not profiting from the Hussein regime through arms deals or the oil-for-food scam (Russia, China, France) -- decided to stop clowning around. Case closed.

The Hinzman show is shining some bad light on our system from south of the border. After discussing the case recently on American TV, I received feedback from viewers floored by the fact that our judges, like Harrington, ascend to the bench, without any debate, upon being handpicked by the (typically Liberal) prime minister.

I can only imagine what they'd say of our unelected Senate, or the governor general's office being a luxury retirement home for CBC staffers interested in playing Queen with our cash.

PUBLISHED:  TORONTO SUN (November 28/05)