‘Do­mes­tic squab­bles’

Prime min­is­ter urges op­po­si­tion to leave ar­gu­ments over Khadr at home

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY KEITH DOUCETTE

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau took aim at the cross­bor­der Con­ser­va­tive cam­paign lam­bast­ing him for a gen­er­ous fed­eral pay­out to Omar Khadr, say­ing “do­mes­tic squab­bles” should be left at home.

Speak­ing at a sum­mer camp in south­west­ern Nova Sco­tia on Fri­day, Trudeau said do­mes­tic politics should stay within Canada’s bor­ders.

“When I deal with the United States, I leave the do­mes­tic squab­bles at home,” he said. “Other par­ties don’t seem to have that rule, but I think it’s one Cana­di­ans ap­pre­ci­ate.”

Trudeau said he’ll con­tinue to work with op­po­si­tion par­ties ahead of talks to re­jig the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment next month, but that Cana­di­ans ex­pect do­mes­tic dis­putes won’t de­rail those dis­cus­sions.

Se­nior Lib­er­als have ac­cused Con­ser­va­tives of fan­ning an­tiTrudeau sen­ti­ment in U.S. ads ahead of NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions, but Tory Leader An­drew Scheer has ar­gued that the Grits are to blame for any Amer­i­can back­lash over the Khadr pay­ment.

Trudeau said he un­der­stands if peo­ple are frus­trated by the set­tle­ment, but that the de­ci­sion was taken to save the coun­try money and to de­fend the ba­sic rights and free­doms of all Cana­di­ans.

“Omar Khadr was go­ing to show up in court...with a note from the Supreme Court with his name on it say­ing that his rights had been vi­o­lated,” he said. “There is no ques­tion we were go­ing to lose this case be­cause gov­ern­ments of dif­fer­ent stripes vi­o­lated his fun­da­men­tal rights and free­doms.”

Trudeau said Canadian lead­ers can’t only stand up for those rights when it’s easy and pop­u­lar.

“Ul­ti­mately, you have to de­cide what kind of gov­ern­ment you are. Are you a gov­ern­ment that stands for what is right, or are you a gov­ern­ment that stands for what is easy?” he said. “Are you will­ing to play the politics of di­vi­sion, of fear, of look­ing for par­ti­san gain any time there is a tough de­ci­sion to make, or are you go­ing to stand there and make those tough de­ci­sions?”

He said the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion is fo­cused on grow­ing the econ­omy and help­ing the mid­dle class, not on po­lit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sies in Canada.

Fif­teen years ago, the Canadian-born Khadr was im­pris­oned in the no­to­ri­ous U.S. de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity Guan­tanamo, ac­cused of killing an Amer­i­can sol­dier/medic dur­ing a fire­fight in Afghanistan. Khadr was just 15 years old at the time.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that Canadian au­thor­i­ties vi­o­lated Khadr’s char­ter rights when they in­ter­ro­gated him there.

Khadr launched a $20-mil­lion civil suit against Ot­tawa, which was set­tled ear­lier this month when the gov­ern­ment agreed to pay him com­pen­sa­tion - re­port­edly $10.5 mil­lion - rather than pur­sue a costly court bat­tle.

CP PHOTO/AN­DREW VAUGHAN

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and his wife So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau walk on the beach at Ke­jimku­jik Sea­side Na­tional and His­toric Park in Port Joli, N.S., on Fri­day.

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