An Ambiguous Welcome: Vietnam Draft Resistance, the Canadian State, and Cold War Containment


  • David S. Churchill


A significant portion of the growth in American immigration to Canada from the mid- 1960s to the mid-1970s was a consequence of the Vietnam War. For the Canadian government, the appearance of large numbers of draft resisters at the border was a boon. Draft resisters, if not deserters, tended to be young, middle-class, and educated — the very type of immigrant the government wanted. Allowing entry to draft resisters also reaped an important symbolic benefit in that it allowed the Canadian government to demonstrate its independence from the United States and its opposition to the war. In practice, however, not all young Americans resisting militarism were welcomed. Government officials argued contradictory interpretations of the policy on admitting draft resisters and deserters and their legal status in Canada. The Cold War and the increased domestic concerns generated by student and protest movements in the 1960s also solidified cooperation between the American and Canadian security states in maintaining a surveillance of draft resisters and deserters.