Cana­dian gov­ern­ment agrees to pay Guan­tanamo Bay pris­oner $10.5M and apol­o­gize

‘This is of­fen­sive to many Cana­di­ans,’ says Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN PERKEL

TORONTO — Word that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has agreed to pay former Guan­tanamo Bay pris­oner Omar Khadr more than $10 mil­lion and apol­o­gize to him to set­tle a long-run­ning law­suit sparked a fu­ri­ous and at times vir­u­lent re­ac­tion on Tues­day among those who see him as a ter­ror­ist killer and those who believe he de­serves com­pen­sa­tion.

The set­tle­ment, con­firmed by sources fa­mil­iar with the deal, ex­posed the deep chasm that has di­vided Cana­di­ans over Khadr al­most since 2002 when he was dragged hor­rif­i­cally wounded as a 15-year-old from the bat­tle­field in Afghanistan.

“When a Cana­dian sol­dier is in­jured in bat­tle, the gov­ern­ment pro­vides a dis­abil­ity award up to a max­i­mum of $360,000,” Con­ser­va­tive MP Michelle Rem­pel said in a tweet. “De­spite this, the cur­rent gov­ern­ment is will­ing to pro­vide $10 mil­lion to a con­victed ter­ror­ist.”

The Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion started an on­line pe­ti­tion aimed at Lib­eral Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, who was in Ire­land, de­plor­ing the deal one source said was signed last week.

“This is of­fen­sive to many Cana­di­ans,” the pe­ti­tion states.

So­cial me­dia ex­ploded with de­nun­ci­a­tion of the agree­ment, which sources said would see the gov­ern­ment pay Khadr $10.5 mil­lion and the jus­tice and public safety min­is­ters for­mally apol­o­gize to him.

Posters used words such as “dis­grace­ful,” some called for the Cana­dian cit­i­zen to be kicked out of the coun­try, while oth­ers ar­gued the money should go to the fam­ily of Chris Speer, the U.S. Special Forces sol­dier Khadr is al­leged to have killed in 2002.

The Toronto-born Khadr, 30, pleaded guilty to five war crimes be­fore a much ma­ligned mil­i­tary com­mis­sion in 2010. He has claimed — with some ev­i­dence — his Amer­i­can cap­tors tor­tured him. Khadr’s $20-mil­lion law­suit — ini­tially launched in 2004 — al­leges the fed­eral gov­ern­ment breached his rights by, among other things, col­lud­ing with the Amer­i­cans in his mis­treat­ment.

Those who see him as a ter­ri­bly abused “child sol­dier” called the ap­par­ent set­tle­ment long over­due. “For 15 years, Omar Khadr’s case has been a stark re­minder of the many ways that an over­reach­ing and unchecked ap­proach to na­tional se­cu­rity read­ily runs roughshod over uni­ver­sally pro­tected hu­man rights,” Alex Neve, sec­re­tary gen­eral of Amnesty in Canada, said in a state­ment.

His sup­port­ers ac­cused the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, par­tic­u­larly the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment, of not pro­tect­ing him.

Khadr’s lawyers and a spokesman for Public Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale re­fused to com­ment. Trudeau, how­ever, al­luded to a pend­ing deal.

“We are an­tic­i­pat­ing, like I think a num­ber of peo­ple are, that that ju­di­cial process is com­ing to its con­clu­sion,” the prime min­is­ter said in Dublin.

TORONTO STAR

Omar Khadr was 15 when he was shot and de­tained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

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