Defend Alison Bodine
Partial Victory for Politically Targeted Anti-War Activist
By Andrew Barry
On March 17th 2008, a major breakthrough in the case of politically targeted anti-war activist Alison Bodine was reached. The Federal Court of Canada has decided to grant leave in Alison’s case, meaning the court will hear arguments against the government of Canada’s removal of Alison from Canada! This victory in the campaign to lift the ban on Alison came exactly four months after Alison was forced out of Canada by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
The case of Alison Bodine began on September 13th 2007, when Alison tried returning to the United States but was arrested by the CBSA. Three days prior to this arrest, Alison, a US citizen and 2007 University of British Columbia physics graduate, was targeted and harassed by Canada border officials after they found various anti-war reading materials in her car when she was legally trying to enter Canada. After extensive questioning by the border guards, Alison agreed to their request that she voluntarily return to the US. Later that same day, Alison tried to re-enter Canada and was allowed entry with no further questioning. To reduce further harassment Alison had asked a friend from Vancouver to come to the US and pick up the political materials from her. He legally returned to Canada, but the border guards seized the political materials and all other items in his car. He was given a receipt stating that Alison could pick up these items within 40 days.
Three days later Alison returned to the border to pick up these items. Upon showing border officials the receipt she was arrested, handcuffed, and told there was a Canada-wide warrant for her arrest. She was then transferred to detention.
The next day a protest was called in Vancouver to free Alison, which along with major local and national media coverage helped lead to her release from detention on the evening of September 14th.
Over the next two months, while Alison was in Canada and her defence campaign was fighting against the CBSA’s manoeuvres to have her banned, her case broke wide open in Vancouver, across Canada, and the United States. Alison, the co-chair and official spokesperson for Vancouver-based anti-war coalition Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO), received hundreds of letters of support from organisations, politicians, political parties, unions, and student groups calling for this political targeting of a young anti-war activist to end once and for all. A popular petition campaign began that saw over 3000 people sign to have the political targeting stop.
Despite the mounting support in defence of her rights, on October 31st the immigration hearing upheld the CBSA’s accusations that Alison had misrepresented herself when she came into Canada. And the “punishment” would be that as of November 17th 2007, Alison would be banned from Canada for two years.
But the campaign did not stop there. Alison’s legal defence began the process of applying for a judicial review of the case in a federal court.
And it was March 17th when Alison received news from the Federal Court of Canada stating they have granted a leave in her case, allowing for arguments to be heard in her defence! Legally this means Alison has a case worthy of appeal that is recognized by the courts as substantial to devote time, money, and resources to.
This hearing is scheduled for June 12th 2008, where Alison’s lawyer will be presenting her case against this political targeting. Due to being banned from the country Alison is not allowed to be there in Canada to defend herself at this hearing. But the partial victory stands, and the Alison Bodine Defence Committee (ABDC) is moving forward with this victory in the defence of a young anti-war activist, targeted for her involvement in social justice organizing.
The Alison Bodine Defence Committee calls on all social justice and peace loving people to get involved in the weeks and months leading up to June 12th in defending Alison from these political attacks. For information and updates on her case and on how to get involved, visit the defence blog at http://alisonbodine.blogspot.com.
Lift the ban on Alison now!
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