Fine to dis­agree, but be trans­par­ent

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Re: “Cit­i­zen main­tains right to dis­agree,” The Guardian, July 17): I have no prob­lem with Donald Bar­lett’s right to dis­agree with me. But he should in fu­ture be a bit more trans­par­ent. For in­stance, it would have helped if he had men­tioned that lawyer Howard Anglin works for the right-lean­ing Cana­dian Con­sti­tu­tion Foun­da­tion and that he was a for­mer deputy chief of staff to Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper.

I’ll ad­mit that there is some de­bate about the proper le­gal def­i­ni­tion of a child sol­dier — and I’m not an in­ter­na­tional le­gal scholar. But the jury is still out the pre­cise age. For ex­am­ple, the Paris Prin­ci­ples of 2007 re­fer to a child as­so­ci­ated with an armed force as any per­son un­der the age of 18 years (Omar Khadr was 15 when he was im­pris­oned in Afghanistan). And the Supreme Court of Canada — on three oc­ca­sions, I be­lieve — would not rec­og­nize Khadr as an adult of­fender. Lastly, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, which does rec­og­nize Khadr as a child sol­dier, ar­gues that the U.S. gov­ern­ment ef­fec­tively de­clared Khadr a child sol­dier when it la­belled him an “un­law­ful com­bat­ant.”

As for John W.A. Cur­tis’ point about in­vok­ing Sec­tion 33, of­ten re­ferred to as the leg­isla­tive over­ride clause, it can­not be used to set aside Sec­tions 7-15 (and Sec­tion 2) on le­gal (and equal­ity) rights. So, Sec­tion 33 could not have been used in the case of Khadr, since his le­gal rights were the ba­sis of his Char­ter vic­tory.

Peter McKenna, pro­fes­sor and chair, depart­ment of po­lit­i­cal science, Univer­sity of Prince Ed­ward Is­land

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