How Did Draft Dodging To Canada Work?

I was watching an episode of Maude, which it’s revealed Arthur’s son, Arthur Jr, evaded the draft by moving to Canada.

I was wondering just how this worked. It would be easy enough to get across the border, but how did they avoid getting deported. I assume there was some kind of Canadian law preventing them, but then OK so they’re not deported fine, how did they get work?

I assume you have to have a work permit of some sort to work in Canada.

Also did Canada act differently toward those evading the draft, rather than those deserting the US Army and seeking refuge in Canada?

(The difference being the dodger was never in the military but moved to Canada to prevent being called up, while the deserter was in the military and then went AWOL to seek refuge in Canada)

Canada simply chose to treat them as immigrants, and didn’t recognize dodging the US draft as a crime. Since the Canadian government wanted immigration at the time, and didn’t support the US war in Vietnam anyway, they weren’t inclined to prevent it. Not much the US government could do about it, unless the draft evader tried to move back.

Ah so any American could just up and move to Canada. Interesting…

What about extradition? Did the US not persue it, or did the US file for extradition and the Canadians just refuse? Or ignore it?

When Carter was president he granted amnesty to anyone who moved up there to avoid the draft so some of them moved back after that.

By which time a lot of them had settled and simply chose to stay there.

BTW, Canada also granted asylum to actual deserters during the Vietnam years. Sweden was also well known for it at the time. From :

The Master speaks.

On the extradition issue - according to Cecil’s article, extradition treaties are generally limited to things which are crimes in the country which you are seeking extradition from. Since Canada had no draft, draft evasion wasn’t a crime, so the US couldn’t seek extradition.

At the time, you could apply for landed immigrant status from inside the country after arrival or during your vaction in the great white north. If you had a decent education and a proficiency in English, like a lot of college-student draft dodgers, you were pretty much guaranteed acceptance. We still ahve a problem with people who are ordered deported and simply disappear, so odds are anyone who was not a threat to peace order and good government could stay on the lam for while even if their request was denied. Plus, years of appeal process before any final decision ws made.

We still have a problem with 3rd world ecnomic migrants claiming refugee status upon arrival. It can take years to reject their claims

I recall about 1976 Canada issues a general amnesty for anyone wh had been in the country a few years. Several Americans I was at college with, were in Canada on student visas. The wording of the amnesty - IIRC, 3 years residence - meant they could apply for Canadian citizenship in addition to their US citizenship, so they did so.

Yeah, draft dodging is not something the Canadians considered an offense to extradite people. However, I recall reading quite a few cases over the last decades where deserters, even 30 years on, will be arrested if the cross back into the USA.

The first part of the question has been adequately answered–immigration to Canada was easier in those days.

But as for the extradition question, the reason is this: Canada did not have a draft; therefore, draft dodging was not a crime in Canada. As I understand things, the extradition treaties between Canada and the US could only be enforced when the act was a crime in both countries. For example, a US murderer who fled to Canada could be arrested in Canada and extradited back to the US; murder being a crime in Canada and all states of the US. But when the act was a crime in only one of the two countries–as draft dodging was in the US–arrest by Canadians and subsequent extradition was not possible.

In other words, the US would be asking Canada to arrest people on Canadian soil who had committed no crime in Canada according to Canadian law. Canada would naturally refuse to arrest/extradite such a person, although I’d guess the Americans would know this and thus just not bother asking. Looked at this way, it is easy to understand how draft dodgers got away with it.

Were “legitimate” expatriot workers subject to the draft?


IIRC, even non-citizens resident in the USA (right age and gender) were subject to the draft.

By the way, that’s not just a U.S. rule. I know someone of French citizenry who was longtime resident of California; at one point he was requested to register for the French army.

As noted in the wiki article, the situation with actual deserters was more problematic, but in the end, Canada chose to reserve the right to arrest them, but didn’t do so, nor did they prevent them from entering. Desertion from the Canadian military was certainly seen as a crime in Canada, and some interesting rationalization took place to allow another country’s deserters to walk around loose. Similar processes probably took place in the other countries which gave asylum to US deserters during Vietnam.

In practice, extradition treaties are often interpreted flexibly, as asylum is used to make statements concerning another country’s policies, or make political hay out of a high profile case.

They were definitely expatriates, but whether or not they were no longer patriots is, I think, subject to debate.

Only permanent residents (including illegal ones) are subject to the draft and they may be exempted depending on what treaties the US has with their home countries. Male tourists & international students are exempt (& obviously diplomatic staff, their husbands & sons are too).

Stupid typo, and odd that Firefox didn’t catch it!

Yes, and you are correct as regards deserters. My apologies; I was addressing the question of draft dodging, not desertion–I should have been clearer.