Khadr fight should be fought at home
THE SPECTATOR’S VIEW
There is room for disagreement about aspects of the Omar Khadr settlement and apology.
You cannot credibly argue his rights were not violated. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled not once, but twice, that leaving him to rot in Guantanamo did violate Khadr’s Charter rights. You also cannot credibly argue he was not a child soldier. Fifteen at the time of the infamous firefight, Khadr was officially a child soldier according to the United Nations. And you cannot reasonably argue his admission of guilt should stand, as it is acknowledged he confessed having been tortured. Such a coerced confession would never stand up in a Canadian court of law.
But there is certainly room for legitimate debate in other areas. Was the $10 million settlement justified? Most legal experts say it would have cost Canada more, much more, had the government fought the law suit instead of settling. It is said previous prime ministers, including Stephen Harper and Jean Chrétien, would have fought any settlement, even against professional advice and regardless of how much money it ended up costing. But it has to be noted that legal consensus suggests, at minimum, a fight would have cost $30 to $40 million, and might have cost up to $100 million. Should Justin Trudeau have had that fight, even though his own legal team said it was a losing cause?
There’s ample room to argue the government didn’t handle this well by keeping it quiet. Taking it to Parliament, even as a courtesy, would have made sense.
There’s even room to debate the Conservative strategy of taking the case against the deal to the American media. On that point, we would argue the Khadr critics are dead wrong. Granted, the anti-Khadr campaign didn’t get a warm reception with most Canadian media. That’s because it follows the rule of law, and most of us support that whether we like this particular example or not. But that doesn’t justify recruiting Fox News and others to take the fight against the Trudeau government to the Americans at a time when the government is negotiating NAFTA and doing its best to maintain constructive relations with the Trump administration.
It’s called putting partisan party interests — hurting Justin Trudeau — ahead of national interests. That is neither appropriate nor wise.
Let’s give the final words to Michael Spratt, who wrote in Canadian Lawyer magazine: ‘The simple fact is that the Khadr critics’ ideology is irreconcilable with the law and the facts. The repetition of ill-informed and disingenuous talking points by the Conservative pundits and members of Parliament is nothing but a dishonest attempt at political gain that will only serve to undermine respect for human rights and the rule of law — and no settlement can compensate Canada for that crime.’ Well said.