Fine to disagree, but be transparent
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