Library reviewing policies after controversial event sparks outrage
OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says he shares the concerns of Canadians who object to reports of the government’s multi-million dollar settlement with Omar Khadr.
But the prime minister says if the government hadn’t settled with the former Guantanamo Bay inmate, it would have cost as much as $40 million to put an end to the case.
“I can understand Canadians’ concerns about the settlement. In fact, I share those concerns about the money. That’s why we settled,” Trudeau said Thursday.
Khadr had filed a $20-million lawsuit against the government for violating his Charter rights, and has received an out-of-court settlement reportedly worth $10.5 million.
“If we had continued to fight this, not only would we have inevitably lost, but estimates range from $30 to $40 million that it would have ended up costing the government,”
TORONTO — A Canadian judge wasted precious few minutes on Thursday in refusing to freeze a reported $10.5-million payout to Omar Khadr so the widow of a slain American soldier he was accused of killing in Afghanistan can have more time to go after the money.
In his ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba Trudeau said.
“This was the responsible path to take.”
Khadr was sent to the notorious U.S. prison after being captured during a firefight with U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002. He was 15 years old when he was wounded in a battle in which U.S. Sgt. Chris Speer was killed and fellow Delta Force said he had heard nothing to show Khadr planned to hide assets to thwart possible enforcement of a massive American court award against him.
“People might have a lot of opinions. But this is not a coffee shop. This is a court of law,” Belobaba said during the hearing. “We don’t, thank goodness, in Canada have one law for Omar Khadr and one law for all other Canadians.”
Tabitha Speer, widow of U.S. special forces soldier Sgt. Chris soldier Layne Morris was blinded in one eye.
Khadr was interrogated in 2003 and 2004 by Canadian intelligence officials. Khadr says his jailers threatened him with rape and kept him in isolation, and once used him as a human mop to wipe up urine.
Khadr, now 30, pleaded guilty to five war crimes before a widely Speer, and a former American soldier Layne Morris blinded in one eye, wanted an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets pending their battle to have a Canadian court force him to pay the US$134.1-million judgment from Utah.
Their Toronto-based lawyer David Winer found himself struggling to persuade Belobaba to hand down what the judge called an “extraordinary and very drastic remedy” and a “nuclear weapon.”
Grabbing someone’s property, condemned military commission at Guantanamo Bay in 2010. He said he agreed to the plea so he could get out of the American prison and return to Canada. He was released on bail in 2015 pending his appeal of the war crimes conviction.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadian officials violated Khadr’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms during their interrogations. It found they were participating in the “then-illegal military regime” at Guantanamo.
The government payout has angered rank-and-file Canadians, as well as veterans groups, and has exposed the Liberals to scathing political attacks from the opposition Conservatives.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation dropped off a petition at Trudeau’s office Thursday bearing the signatures of more than 133,000 Canadians opposing the payout.
Trudeau said the lesson for future governments is that when they violate a Canadian’s rights, everyone pays.
“The measure of a society — a just society — is not whether we stand up for people’s rights when it’s easy or popular to do so. It’s whether we recognize rights when it’s difficult, when it’s unpopular.” the judge said, demands solid, credible evidence that the person planned to thwart creditors or flout court orders.
“We’ve got to deal with that,” he told Winer. “If you can’t clear this criterion, we’re done.”
Winer’s evidence, however, amounted to media reports on Khadr’s recent settlement of his lawsuit against Ottawa, announced last week, for breaching his rights during his 10 years as a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.
TORONTO — The Toronto Public Library is reviewing its policies after a gathering at a local branch to honour a lawyer who defended people associated with the white supremacy movement was met with widespread criticism. An announcement for the event held Wednesday at the Richview branch described it as a memorial for Barbara Kulaszka, a lawyer whose clients included Marc Lemire, the leader of the now-disbanded white supremacy group Heritage Front.
The mayor asked for the event to be cancelled, but was told the library was advised by its lawyer that it could not refuse the booking, he said in a statement.
The Toronto Public Library said it did not endorse the gathering but could not reject it so long as nothing illegal occurred. Postmedia Wire Services